Wednesday, July 8, 2015

State Budget Reflects Senate Republican Caucus Policy Initiatives

MBTA Reform, Olympic Games Spending Freeze & Insurance Surcharge Boston- Key policy reforms initiated by the Senate Republican Caucus are contained in the Fiscal Year 2016 annual state budget now moving to Governor Charlie Baker’s desk. Major reform elements included in the final version of the budget are expected to produce a sweeping overhaul of the troubled MBTA. In February, as winter storms continued to expose management and maintenance gaps, members of the Senate Republican caucus filed legislation to move the failing agency under the auspices of a Fiscal Control and Management Board, a change which would create a stronger line of accountability to Governor Charlie Baker. The Senate, in May, ultimately unanimously approved the reform plan proposed by Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester). Bi-partisan support, following collaboration with Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Tom McGee, grew into a unanimous vote of the Senate. “For far too long, the management at the T allowed the system to fail, a grave disservice to their riders, taxpayers, and our economy. By adopting the amendment with bi-partisan support, the Senate created momentum to the idea of giving Governor Baker the tools he needs to begin to end the hardship that the T has generated, pursue greater efficiencies, and restore faith with those who pay the bills,” said Senator Tarr. Vinny deMacedo (R-Plymouth), the Senate Republican member of the budget negotiating committee added, “We were honored to share what we believe is a common sense approach to governing. We lived within our fiscal means, we tackled challenging issues by giving the Administration the tools necessary to govern effectively and we address the most significant challenges that we as a Commonwealth face.” Components of the MBTA control board include: • Securing financial and performance stability of the MBTA; • Implementing uniform budget and planning guidelines and procedures for all departments; • MBTA fare protections for riders; • Inspector General required to review service and procurement contracts; • Executing capital budgets and borrowing authorizations to finance or refinance any debt; • Maintaining authority to appoint, remove, supervise, and control all MBTA employees and personnel matters; • Developing a long range plan for MBTA financial and structural sustainability; and • Accountability measures including requiring the filing of a quarterly report to the House and Senate Committees on Ways and Means detailing revenues and expenses. In addition to the control board, the final budget includes targeted relief from an anti-privatization law that has obstructed savings and reform. A temporary suspension of the so-called Pacheco law is expected to provide the MBTA with project and maintenance savings and greater program efficiencies otherwise not available. Independent budget and policy experts have suggested that the Pacheco law has resulted in added costs of hundreds of millions of dollars. “I am happy to see that the Conference Committee included the significant MBTA reform advocated for by Senate Republican Caucus in our final budget proposal. The eleven cities and towns I represent in the 2nd Hampden and Hampshire District will benefit greatly from the establishment of the control board and contract oversight by the Inspector General,” said Donald Humason (R-Westfield). “Assuring that cost reducing measures and contract evaluations are performed will help to put an end to what has been years of wasteful spending that impacts residents across the Commonwealth—including Western Massachusetts.” Senate Minority Leader Tarr also successfully advocated for the inclusion of legislation he authored to assure that no state agency or department spends any state funds connected to the 2024 Olympic Games in Boston unless a special act of the Legislature is signed into law by Governor Baker. “Inclusion of our amendment ensures that the Legislature and Governor, as responsible stewards of the Commonwealth’s resources, are putting taxpayer’s interests and needs first,” said Tarr. The conference committee included the legislation, which received support from a bi-partisan group of Senate co-sponsors, to provide greater oversight on the use of state money as the International Olympic Committee considers which city will be awarded the games. Under the plan, money can only be spent for due diligence and analysis of Boston 2024 organizer’s plans. “This final budget represents a victory for not only Senate Republicans and the Baker Administration; it is a victory for the people of Massachusetts. Major reforms and taxpayer protections, from the Pacheco law freeze at the MBTA to the continuance of the income tax reduction to 5%, were included as well as my local priorities for the towns I represent. I’m proud to vote for the budget,” said Ryan Fattman, (R Webster). Tarr also received support by the committee when it accepted his plan to shield motorists from costly insurance surcharges for failing to use headlights when foul weather requires they turn their windshield wipers on. Under the Tarr proposal, the $5 moving violation will no longer trigger a six year auto insurance surcharge currently included in state law. “Our goal is to enhance public safety. We shouldn’t be penalizing drivers by spiking their car insurance bill year after year,” said Tarr. “The Senate Republican Caucus took action in the Senate version of the budget to strike the new law and restore commons sense; the motoring public needs to know that our members are on their side.” “The budget proposal put forward here today is reflective of not just the priorities of the Senate, but the priorities of the people of the Commonwealth,” said Senator Ross (R-Wrentham). “I am proud of the hard work of this body in crafting a budget that implements necessary reforms, invests in essential programs, and puts our hardworking taxpayers first.” The conference committee did not include the Senate backed freeze of the Income Tax rate nor a tax increase on flavored tobacco. Following expected approval by the full House and Senate, the budget will next go to the desk of Governor Charlie Baker for his approval. ###

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Give Your Input on the State's Transportation Capital Improvement Plan

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is offering a prime opportunity for people to comment on how state funds should be spent on transportation at 10 hearings being held across the Commonwealth in the month of June.

The hearings focus on the Capital Improvement Plan, which directs spending on infrastructure projects for the Fiscal year 2016, that will begin on June 15. Examples of these types of projects include: road reconstruction, bridge repair and reconstruction, and improvements to the MBTA transit system. The announcement of the hearings from MassDOT is posted below.

Please don’t hesitate to contact my office with any questions about them or transportation issues in general.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Senate Republican Caucus Urges Gov. Baker to Take Public Transportation Action

Today the Senate Republican Caucus distributed the following press release regarding a letter the caucus sent to Governor Baker urging him to take action on the issues currently hampering the state’s public transportation system:

Senate Republican Caucus Urges Gov. Baker to Take Public Transportation Action

Caucus Stands with the Administration in Seeking Solutions

Boston- Expressing concern of the current state of the Commonwealth’s public transportation system, the Senate Republican Caucus sent a letter to Governor Charlie Baker today to urge him to take the necessary steps in improving Massachusetts’ public transportation system.

“These past few weeks of arctic cold temperatures coupled with abnormal amounts of precipitation have stressed the need for further action to prevent the type of commuter gridlock that has prevented so many from receiving a timely commute to work, home, and other important destinations,” wrote the caucus.

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester), Assistant Minority Leader Robert Hedlund (R-Weymouth), Assistant Minority Leader Richard Ross (R-Wrentham), Senate Minority Whip Donald Humason (R-Westfield), Assistant Minority Whip Ryan Fattman (R-Webster) and Vinny deMacedo (R-Plymouth) the Ranking Republican on the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, highlighted several issues currently plaguing the public transportation system within their letter. Those issues include:

  • A lack of timely communications to inform passengers of delays, cancellations, and diversions;

  • A failure of Keolis to fulfill a lengthy list of promised service improvements, e.g., on time performance, equipment performance, safety, customer service, customer satisfaction, ridership growth, etc.;

  • The failure of a strong working relationship between Keolis and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA); and

  • The purchase of different types of equipment (locomotives, coaches, and control cars) throughout the years from different manufacturers, preventing the formation of a fleet of standardized equipment, which now requires additional training, maintenance and inventory issues and challenges.
“With ridership currently falling over the past decade, an aging infrastructure that has been pieced together through the years, and costs continuing to skyrocket to operate the nation’s oldest public transportation system, we stand with you in exploring methods to ensure the types of adverse issues that have prohibited timely commutes are stymied,” wrote Senate Republicans.

The senators are optimistic that Governor Baker and the legislature can work cooperatively to bring a cost effective, world class transportation system that commuters can depend on through reforms to address their concerns.

“We urge you to take all necessary action in improving Massachusetts’ public transportation system.  The Commonwealth depends on a system that delivers a world class service to commuters, and we are dedicated in working with you to ensure the people of this state receive such a system,” wrote the caucus.


* Posted below is the letter sent today by the Senate Republican Caucus to Governor Charlie Baker.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Remembering An Extraordinary Man

Martin Luther King, Jr. photographed by Marion S. Trikosko, 1964. LC-DIG-ppmsc-01269 Source: Library of Congress - See more at:

“He gave people an ethical and moral way to engage in activities designed to perfect social change without bloodshed and violence.” – excerpt from Dr. Benjamin Mays eulogy for Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. at Morehouse College on April 9, 1968.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s life and legacy embodies the essence of freedom and equality for all, and on this day I hope we all take a few moments to reflect on the accomplishments of this extraordinary man.  His message of peace through nonviolent protests to ignite a cultural change within American society is a message that still reverberates today.

Sermon after sermon, speech after speech, Dr. King delivered a message of peace, hope, and faith. Because of his actions, and his ability to deliver such messages, this country made major strides towards eliminating racial injustice. During a time of severe strife, Dr. King taught people tolerance and brotherhood.  During a time of segregation and hate, Dr. King taught love and friendship.

Dr. King will forever be remembered for his contributions, and will continue to inspire people for generations to come.  Posted below is his 1963 public speech “I Have a Dream”, which was delivered in front of a crowd of approximately 200,000 civil rights supporters during a rally in Washington D.C. in front of the Lincoln Memorial.

Full text to the "I Have a Dream" speech:

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check -- a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating "For Whites Only". We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania! Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Senator Tarr’s Statement on a Baker-Polito Three-Month Regulatory Pause

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) released the following statement this week after Governor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito announced a 90-day pause on all new regulations:

“The delays and costs of complying with overly burdensome regulations and permitting requirements represents one of the most frequently cited challenges to economic growth by those who create and maintain jobs. Halting the advancement of even more regulations so that their cost-effectiveness can be determined is an important step in developing a strategy to build a stronger, more robust economic recovery.”

Friday, January 9, 2015

Congratulations to Charlie Baker & Karyn Polito

The following statement was issued by Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr yesterday:

“Today the Commonwealth’s new Governor and Lt. Governor were sworn into office.  I would like to congratulate both Charlie Baker and Karyn Polito on this momentous occasion. Surely we will face many challenges together; however, Massachusetts is in great hands for the next four years, and the Senate Republican Caucus looks forward to working with the new administration in advancing an agenda that will position the state for long term success.”

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Senator Tarr Set to Lead Senate Republicans; Vows the Caucus Will Remain Engaged and Vocal

The Massachusetts State Senate Republican Caucus has announced that current Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr of Gloucester will serve as the caucus’ leader for the 189th session. With a unanimous decision made by the members, Tarr will continue to build upon the successes the caucus has secured over the previous two sessions as minority leader, and vows that the caucus will remain engaged to ensure Massachusetts moves in a direction where small businesses thrive, the economy stabilizes, and children and families succeed.

“I am truly thankful for the trust and confidence the members of the Senate Republican Caucus have placed in me today by reelecting me as their Minority Leader, and I am eager to begin the new legislative session with a renewed commitment to building a stronger and more prosperous Commonwealth for each and every one of us,” said Senator Tarr. “Our caucus will continue to bring ideas to the table and debate issues with vigor and respect. We will never lose sight of the importance of finding common ground, and we will always be mindful of the importance of our principles.”

Under Senator Tarr’s guidance, the Senate Republican Caucus has secured needed transparency within the legislature, prevented the establishment of taxes, and fought for accountability within state government. Some of those successes include:

· Requiring the Massachusetts State Senate to post all roll call votes within 48 hours;

· Leading the repeal of the devastating services tax known as the “tech tax”;

· Strengthening the Commonwealth’s antiquated animal abuse laws by championing the “PAWS Act” (An Act Protecting Animal Welfare and Safety);

· Freezing the unemployment insurance tax rates at the 2013 levels, saving businesses an estimated $500 million; and
· Working with other members of the legislature to ensure the Commonwealth’s natural gas pipes are assessed and repaired in a timely fashion before tragedy strikes.

Tarr, who was first elected to the Senate in 1994, has served in numerous leadership positions prior to his ascension as Minority Leader for the 2011-2012 legislative session. Those positions include Assistant Minority Whip, Minority Whip, and Assistant Minority Leader.  He is the current Co-Chairman of the Coastal Caucus, the Northeast Legislative Caucus, and the Fisheries Subcommittee of the Joint Committee on the Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture.

 “I am very proud to have Senator Bruce Tarr as Minority Leader,” said Senator Ross. “His vast knowledge of the issues, his work ethic and dedication, as well as his commanding oratory, uniquely qualifies him to lead the Senate Republican Caucus.”

Senator Tarr is a relentless advocate for the fishing industry, and has worked with federal, state, and local officials to bring fishing issues such as unfair regulations to the forefront. By establishing a “no stone left unturned” approach, Tarr sponsored and worked with several members of the legislature and secured a measure to advance the marketing of Massachusetts seafood.

“I was very honored to cast my vote for Bruce Tarr for Senate Minority Leader, and I am looking forward to working with Republican Leader Tarr in the next 2 years of our Senate Session,” said Senator Humason. “In the many years that I have worked in state government, I have been fortunate to work for and with true public servants and great leaders.”

After a vigorous and productive campaign year, the Senate Republican Caucus gained an additional two members this past election, bringing the total to six. Senator Viriato deMacedo (R-Plymouth) won the open Plymouth and Barnstable Senate district that was vacated by outgoing Senate President Therese Murray (D-Plymouth), and Senator Ryan Fattman (R-Sutton) unseated incumbent Senator Richard Moore (D-Uxbridge) in the Worcester and Norfolk Senate district.

“I was proud to cast my vote for Sen. Tarr as Minority leader,” said Senator Fattman. “Senator Tarr is truly well respected in the state senate and throughout Massachusetts, and I look forward to working with him in making Massachusetts a more affordable and accountable place to live.”

Under Tarr’s leadership, the Republican caucus will continue to play a big role in shaping legislative measures.  By working with the Senate Republican Caucus, Senator Tarr vows to continue to fight for fiscal discipline, prevent illegal immigrants from collecting state benefits, avert fraud within the state’s welfare programs, and to cut the cost of state government.

Tarr’s district includes the city of Gloucester and the towns of Boxford, Essex, Georgetown, Groveland, Hamilton, Ipswich, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Middleton, Newbury, North Reading, Rockport, Rowley, Wenham, West Newbury, Wilmington, and precincts 5, 6, 7 and 8 in the town of North Andover.