Green Party's Miller Joins State House Race

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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Miller announced his candidacy at the local Green-Rainbow Party June meeting. 
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — After reeling in 45 percent of the vote last year, Mark Miller intends to make another run for the state House.
 
Miller announced his candidacy for the 3rd Berkshire District seat in the state House of Representatives on Thursday to a crowd of about 30 at the Berkshire Greens June meeting. 
 
"We’re going to win this time," Miller said at Baba Louie’s restaurant. "Last year, I thought this incumbent needed a challenge. Starting late and with insufficient funding and organization, I got 45 percent of the vote. That is a good foundation for this time around. This year we are starting early. We are organized."
 
The announcement came the day after current Rep. Christopher N. Speranzo was nominated by Governor Deval Patrick for the lifetime position of clerk-magistrate of the Central Berkshire District Court. Miller had planned the announcement before Speranzo’s nomination but said he was aware that it could come at any time.
 
Miller lost to Speranzo by less than 1,000 votes in November.
 
If Speranzo is approved for the lifetime appointed position, a special election will be held. Ward 2 Councilor Peter White also announced his candidacy for the seat — hours after Speranzo‘s nomination was announced.
 
While Miller will be running as a representative for the Green-Rainbow Party, he said he wants to be the "independent voice" in the House.
 
"I’m proud to be Green and I’m proud to be independent," the former Berkshire Eagle editor said. "We need to work together across party lines, Greens, Democrats, Republicans and independents."
 
Miller boasts of decades of work with various newspaper — as a reporter, editor and columnist — before turning his interest to studying economic development, energy and the environment.
 
"My main focus this year, as it was last year, is on resilient, secure, green local economies; Medicare for all, fair taxes; transparency in government; commitment to public education," Miller said.

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Supplemental Bill Has $1M for Rural Schools, $200K for Barton's Crossing

BOSTON — The Legislature's recently passed $541 million closeout supplemental budget for fiscal 2019 includes another $1 million rural school aid, for in fiscal 2020, for a total of $3.5 million in rural school aid this fiscal year. 
 
"I'm happy to see this bill make those investments in public education, regional school transportation, public transportation, among many other areas " said state Sen. Adam Hinds, who has been a strong proponent of increasing aid to the schools in his largely rural district. "It is my hope that, in providing this additional investment, we can expand this program and make meaningful investments in more school districts."
 
The Rural School Aid grant program helps school districts with low population densities and lower-than-average incomes address fiscal challenges and take steps to improve efficiency. Administered by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Rural School Aid is a source of funding separate from Chapter 70 education aid and is intended to supplement the FY20 operating budgets of eligible school districts.
 
In order to qualify for Rural School Aid, DESE must determine that a school district meets two requirements:
  1. The "rural factor " based student density per square mile of a school district; and
  2. Ability to pay, or the average per capital income of a school district.
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