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Bissaillon Calls for Economic Development Consolidation
By: Bissaillon Campaign On: 08:55AM / Friday July 30, 2010

ADAMS, Mass. —Dave Bissaillon, candidate for 1st Berkshire District State Representative, supports pending legislation that would consolidate Massachusetts’ economic development agencies, making it easier for businesses to launch, grow and relocate.

Bissaillon noted there are more than 30 state agencies that have a role in economic development, making it difficult for business owners to get state assistance. While he was president and CEO of the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce, Bissaillon participated in efforts to form more efficient and regionalized economic development agencies so that Berkshire cities, towns and companies could conduct economic development more efficiently. Doing the same statewide only makes sense, he said.

A conference committee is working to reconcile differences between House Bill 4863 and Senate Bill 2380. The bill would put the Massachusetts Office of Business Development in charge of coordinating business development efforts in the state and creating regional economic development plans in partnership with local entities. It would also consolidate agencies that have a role in attracting business to the state into a Massachusetts Marketing Partnership.

Bissaillon said he was struck during his time at the Chamber of Commerce by the myriad of economic development agencies whose acronyms amounted to alphabet soup.

“In most cases, although we had competent individuals in state agencies at the local level, it was difficult at best for local companies to determine which of the state agencies were best suited to help them,” Bissaillon said.

“I hope the conference committee finishes its work by Saturday’s close of the legislative session, because the reorganization will make it easier for businesses in the First Berkshire District to take advantage of state resources,” he added. “Business owners need to spend their time growing their business, working with their employees, and taking care of their customers, not trying to figure out how to find state assistance.”

Bissaillon said another aspect of the bill — the absorption of the Health and Educational Facilities Authority by MassDevelopment to expand services to non-profit organizations, small businesses and municipalities — would assist the district as well.

He supports a provision in the economic development bill that provides for a state sales tax holiday Aug. 14 and 15 to stimulate spending at businesses across the state.


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Cariddi Warns of Lost Revenue, Backs Measures to Preserve Local Aid and Vital Services
By: Cariddi Campaign On: 10:14AM / Thursday July 29, 2010

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — First Berkshire District candidate Gail Cariddi is warning that passage of two statewide ballot questions coupled with the loss of federal stimulus funds and a vastly depleted rainy day account could force massive cuts to local aid and other state programs with a $5 billion hole in the next state budget.

“According to projections by the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation (MTF), cutting the sales tax from 6.25 to 3 percent will result in an annual loss of $2.4 billion and if voters repeal the sales tax on alcoholic beverages, we are looking at another $100 million per year in lost revenue,” Cariddi noted. “Even if both referendum questions are defeated, MTF estimates that we will still have a structural deficit for the FY 2012 state budget of $2.5 billion.”
“As a city councilor, and a financial manager in my family’s business, I know how to balance a budget and as a state representative, I will push hard to enact some needed budget cuts and close tax loopholes so we can minimize the fiscal pain soon to be faced by our seniors, students and communities,” Cariddi said.
According to Cariddi, two areas in need of budgetary belt-tightening are the Legislature and the Probation Department. “The Legislature maintains a $32 million, little-publicized ‘reserve fund’ which is the product of surpluses in legislative accounts accumulated in recent years. This can be trimmed. I would also cut $4.5 million from the Probation Department for bloated positions. Between 1998 and 2008, spending for this agency grew eight times faster than any other public safety agency. Probation now comprises nearly a third of the judiciary’s 7,000 employees.”

Cariddi said that tough fiscal times demand a re-examination of certain state tax breaks. “Corporate income taxes account for just four percent of state tax revenue today compared with about 16 percent in 1970. Adopting a tax accounting method called “combined reporting”, currently used in 16 states, including California, Maine and New Hampshire, would more accurately assess a corporation’s economic activity in a particular state, and make it more difficult to shift income from a high-tax state to a low-or no-tax state. Such a system could increase tax revenues in Massachusetts by as much as $200 million a year.”

Cariddi said she is also in favor of expanding the 1981 ‘Bottle Bill’ law to include waters, teas and sports drinks which would bring in about $58 million annually with the redemption of an additional 1.5 million containers a year, or $20 million more than under current law. Municipalities would save as much as $7 million in disposal and solid waste costs.

The state’s generous film tax credit is another place for savings, Cariddi said. “I am all for supporting the ‘creative economy’ but new data from the Tax Foundation indicates that we are rolling out the red carpet to enrich Hollywood filmmakers at the expense of state taxpayers.”

Cariddi pointed to numbers compiled by state Rep. Steven D’Amico (D-Seekonk), a critic of the film subsidies, which show that last year, the state spent $113 million in subsidies but created only 1,076 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs and brought in only $17.5 million in new tax revenue.

Telecom tax fairness is yet another area that should be considered next year, Cariddi said. “I would end the property tax exemption for machinery owned by telecommunications companies. Ending this special tax break would generate an estimated $25 million for cities and towns, and that is money we could put to better use building the infrastructure for ‘last-mile’ broadband for the rural communities of western Franklin and northern Berkshire counties.”

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Szczepaniak Calls for Budget and Rules Reform
By: Szczepaniak Campaign On: 11:13AM / Wednesday July 28, 2010

DALTON, Mass. — Thomas Szczepaniak, candidate for state representative in the 2nd Berkshire District, is calling for reform of legislative rules and budget debate for the upcoming House session beginning in January. 

“Far too much of the people’s business is done behind closed doors and out of public view on Beacon Hill,” Szczepaniak said. “Many of the biggest decisions at the State House are made in secret.”

Because the Legislature has exempted itself from the state’s open-meeting and public records laws, deliberations are often done in private and hidden from the public. Szczepaniak noted that because one of the first orders of business to be considered by the 187th General Court will be the adoption of rules governing House sessions for the 2011-2012 term, “there will be an immediate opportunity to institute some reforms for more open state government.”

Szczepaniak said he would favor open party caucuses as exist in Colorado, Montana, Vermont and other states. “Clearly, legislators gather at caucuses to discuss the public's business and when they do, the public has a right to observe these discussions and to be informed about what happens at those meetings."

Szczepaniak listed several other reforms as top priorities including:

*Requiring recorded roll call votes on any tax or fee increase.
*Ending so-called ‘consolidated amendments’ to the annual state budget which are negotiated in back rooms off the House chamber which are not accessible to the public and the media.
*Streamlining the appropriations for the state court system to allow judicial managers to allocate resources where they are most needed.

“The recent patronage scandal in the Probation Department is yet another reminder that we need to stop micro-managing the judicial branch through the budget process. We are now the only state where the Legislature uses the budget process to exert control over the judiciary. Our judiciary is a separate, independent branch of government but is treated like a legislative step-child,” Szczepaniak said.

"Each court unit (superior, district, juvenile, housing, probate and family, etc.) should be given a line-item appropriation and be allowed to allocate those resources as judicial managers see fit rather than the Legislature dictating the funding levels and staffing decisions for each court across the state. The recent Court Management Advisory Board report called our state Probation Department ‘dysfunctional’ and I favor giving power back to judges to hire and supervise key court personnel including probation officers and assistant clerks," he continued.

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Bosley Calls for Closer Ties with Dept of Correction
By: Bosley Campaign On: 12:30PM / Tuesday July 27, 2010

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Daniel Bosley, candidate for Sheriff of Berkshire County, is calling for closer working ties with the Massachusetts Department of Correction. The candidate said that effective systems of communicating data on returning offenders to the local area would make our communities safer by allowing the law enforcement community to be informed in a more timely and thorough manner.

“I have been saying since my kickoff that we need effective communications with the Mass Department of Correction in order to provide the Berkshire County House of Corrections/ Office of Sheriff and the local law enforcement community the ability to prioritize the proper utilization of community services," Bosley stated.

"This is part of my pledge to work with local law enforcement and continue to develop a continuum of community safety with the Massachusetts State police so that community resources are multiplied through cooperative, coordinated professional standards. This was one of the reasons for the endorsement of my candidacy by the Massachusetts State Police. I believe we need to form a local re-integration committee and meet monthly with courts, parole, probation and service providers from the county. The Berkshire Regional Employment Board has been looking at re-entry and we need to formalize that plan through a continuing committee. The Sheriff’s office must be an integral part of that," he said.

Bosley went on to say that better information can ease re-entry for prison inmates into the community. “Again, the watchword is safety,” he said.

“Our ability to work with the Mass DOC means that we can ease re-entry and be able to place the offenders in our re-entry programs if we can come to terms with Mass DOC as a revenue source for that work. Simply stated, the redirection of re-entry/community integration funds provided by Mass DOC would allow the Berkshire County Sheriff's Department and local and state police the opportunity to more effectively coordinate our efforts to keep the community safe.”

Bosley said his experience working with the Department of Correction gives him the experience and ability to coordinate such programs. “I have been dealing with the department for years and believe that, given budget cuts over the past few years, we need to become more efficient and innovative in our utilization of resources. Public safety is always enhanced by the standard of excellence that we who are dedicated to this process bring to our tasks each day.”

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MacDonald Against Wind-Siting Bill
By: MacDonald Campaign On: 09:01AM / Friday July 23, 2010

ADAMS, Mass. — Edward MacDonald, candidate for state representative, came out against the wind siting bill that passed the House of Representatives. 

MacDonald said the bill takes away local control, and provides more power in the hands of developers. The Senate passed a similar bill earlier in the year.

The language of the bill allows developers to bypass the local boards if the permitting process takes longer than 120 days. MacDonald supports clean energy, but not at the cost of relinquishing the rights of cities, towns and their residents.

"What is upsetting to me is that this bill bypasses local boards, and therefore local control. The towns and cities and their residents are being shortchanged by the passage of this bill. Large companies who can take their battle to court will eventually win out. While it might reduce red tape and time in implementing these projects, it still puts too much power in the hands of the state. This is a classic example of the state trying to micromanage the cities and towns."

MacDonald said he believes that the state should not take away authority from local boards by passing such a law.
"I believe in local controls, not state-mandated regulations that hurt small cities and towns. I will be your voice at the State House to make sure your voice is heard."

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Where to vote in Berkshire County

State Election
Tuesday, Nov. 4

Voting is from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Deadline to register or change party affiliation was Oct.15.

Candidates on the ballot in races for state office; all others on the ballot are unopposed. Links will take you to their campaign websites.

U.S. Senator
Edward J. Markey, Democrat
Brian J. Herr, Republican

Governor/Lieutenant Governor
Charlie Baker & Karyn Polito, Republican
Martha Coakley & Stephen Kerrigan, Democrat
Evan Falchuk & Angus Jennings, United Independent Party
Scott Lively & Shelly Saunders, Independent
Jeff McCormick & Tracy Post, Independent 

Attorney General
Maura Healey, Democratic
John B. Miller, Republican

Secretary of State
William Francis Galvin, Democratic
David D'Arcangelo, Republican
Daniel L. Factor, Green-Rainbow

Deborah B. Goldberg, Democratic
Michael James Heffernan, Republican
Ian T. Jackson, Green-Rainbow

Suzanne M. Bump, Democratic
Patricia S. Saint Aubin, Republican
MK Merelice, Green-Rainbow

Municipal Elections

The cities of Pittsfield and North Adams will hold municipal elections for mayor, city council and school committee in 2015

You may vote absentee: if you will be absent from your town or city on election day, have a physical disability that prevents you from voting at the polls or cannot vote at the polls because to religious beliefs.

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