MacDonald Supports Accelerated Learning Programs
ADAMS, Mass. — Ed MacDonald, candidate for state representative in the 1st Berkshire District, has expressed his support for accelerated learning programs.
"In an ever increasingly competitive society, it is imperative that we continually progress and innovate. An effective way of doing this is to offer the very best education for our sons and daughters. This serves as the foundation for a proposed accelerated learning program similar to the one found in Worcester, known as the Massachusetts Academy of Math and Science (Mass Academy)," MacDonald said in a statement.
Students may attend Mass Academy's program during their junior year of high school, after taking a a rigorous entry examination. The school focuses on teaching advanced science and mathematics, including physics and calculus. Upon successful completion of their junior year, students may then take courses at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
"This provides these students a distinctive advantage in the marketplace as many will go on to the top technological schools in the country," stated MacDonald.
MacDonald proposes that a program similar for local students could be created by partnering with Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, using the new science and technology center it plans to build.
"We could together engineer a program that is very similar to the Mass Academy ideology. McCann Technical High School has already started an engineering program to enable students to have a head start in college and has been successful on many occasions with its students. Both McCann and Mass Academy’s programs not only set precedence for success but give our students a much desired commodity, opportunity," he stated.
"To have the opportunity to take college classes as a high school student when one is intellectually ready enables them to be competitive and to help dominate the market. We need to expand our push for higher education and MCLA’s continual progress for excellence provide an excellent blend of opportunity that can help our students be some of the best contributions to society as a whole."
"As such, I propose that when I am elected as your state representative, that we push for a program similar to Mass Academy that stands as an excellent extension to what McCann is already trying to implement. Our students deserve the best, isn’t it about time that we followed through?"
MacDonald Proposes Cutting Health Care Costs
ADAMS, Mass. — Ed MacDonald, candidate for state representative in the 1st Berkshire District, proposes to move health care forward by cutting costs by 30 percent. “I will propose legislation to reduce health care costs for working families and businesses,” he said.
According to MacDonald, as recently enacted health care reform laws become implemented, challenges remain to assure the development of a high–performance health care system for the Commonwealth. Despite great achievements in expanding health insurance coverage, MacDonald says we have much to accomplish to achieve a high-value, integrated health delivery system which is patient-centered. In order to lower costs, increase access to care and improve the overall quality of care delivered, he proposes expanding primary care, creating electronic health information systems, and establishing fair malpractice policies.
According to MacDonald, although it has been shown that a strong primary care foundation can lower costs and improve health outcomes, fewer physicians are choosing primary care careers, and those who are already practicing are changing jobs or retiring early. He says that it's imperative to commit resources that will provide an incentive to grow and sustain primary care in Massachusetts. MacDonald proposes providing tuition assistance and grants for medical students who desire primary care careers.
"The average medical education debt is now about $200,000. This high education cost burden does not encourage medical students to seek traditionally lower paid fields such as primary care. For those currently in practice in primary care, improvements in reimbursements and lower overhead costs will help to achieve retention of experienced physicians by reducing costs of practice," he stated.
"We need to identify and eliminate those health insurance policies and procedures which only serve to increase medical practice overhead costs and interfere with the doctor-patient relationship. Insurance interference leads to delayed care and poorer outcomes. The best way to make health care more efficient, coordinated and effective is to utilize primary care with an emphasis on disease prevention and wellness as the new model for patient care," he continued.
MacDonald "strongly endorses" electronic medical record (EMR) and health information technology efforts, saying these technologies "will ultimately improve communication within our health care system," providing rapid connection of patient information between health care providers, allowing for better coordinated care and enhance timely diagnosis and treatment. MacDonald said EMR will help reduce costs by eliminating unnecessarily repeated medical testing.
Additionally, MacDonald proposes "fair medical malpractice reform" to maintain patient safety from negligence while not penalizing good doctors.
"This reform is needed to help reduce 'defensive medicine' practice which only increases overall health costs. It is estimated by the GAO that nationwide $1 billion a year is spent solely on factors related to malpractice. These factors include ordering unnecessary tests, rising malpractice insurance premiums and costs of litigation," he stated.
"Health care providers are non profits. I would propose that the CEOs, board members and upper management reduce their salaries. In a report dated July 22, Blue Cross Blue Shield had in its coffers more than 3 ½ times required for solvency. I would propose that this number be tightened up to one or two percent solvency. This should reduce costs. With all these suggestions implemented, the cost of health insurance should reduce significantly," he stated.
|Tags: health care reform|
Candidates Forum Scheduled for Aug 17
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The nonpartisan League of Women of Williamstown is sponsoring a public forum for the candidates running in the Democratic primary elections for the offices of the Sheriff of Berkshire County and State Representative from the Berkshire 1st District.
The forum will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 17, from 7 to 9 p.m. on the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts campus, in the auditorium on the second floor of the Church Street Center. League President Anne Skinner will moderate. Each candidate will make opening and closing statements, and members of the audience will have the opportunity to ask questions.
According to the League, all of the campaigns have indicated that their candidates will be attending. The Democratic candidates for the office of sheriff are Daniel E. Bosley and Tom Bowler. The Democratic candidates for the office of Berkshire 1st District representative are David Bissaillon, Gailanne Cariddi and Edward MacDonald. (There are no Republican candidates for these offices).
WUPE/WNAW radio is also planning an on-air debate for the sheriff' candidates in early September that iBerkshires has agreed to participate in. More information will be released when the date and time as been confirmed.
The primary election will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 14. Because of the dearth of Republican and independent candidates for sheriff and the 1st district, the primary will essentially decide the winners for the two positions.
Bissaillon Calls for Economic Development Consolidation
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.
|Tags: Bissaillon, economic development|
Cariddi Warns of Lost Revenue, Backs Measures to Preserve Local Aid and Vital Services
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.”