Friedman, Senate Pass 2025 Budget to Make Community College Free, Invest in Every Region, Open Childcare Seats     

$57.999 billion budget approved unanimously following three days of robust, bipartisan debate   

(BOSTON—5/23/2024) The Massachusetts Senate has unanimously approved a $57.999 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2025 (FY25). Following robust and spirited debate, the Senate adopted over 400 amendments and took 43 roll call votes, adding $89.6 million in spending for statewide initiatives and local priorities for communities around the Commonwealth.   

The budget builds on the Senate’s commitment to fiscal responsibility while delivering historic levels of investment in every level of education, regional equity, and mental health, reflecting the Chamber’s commitment to creating a more affordable, equitable, and competitive Commonwealth.        

“The Senate’s Fiscal Year 2025 budget ensures stability, regional equity, and a high level of quality for the programs that our municipalities and residents need and rely on,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “As we grapple with rising costs and access challenges within the Massachusetts health care system, I am especially proud that this budget utilizes tools to maximize our health care dollars for the facilities and providers that serve our most vulnerable residents. I thank Senate President Spilka, Senate Ways and Means Chair Rodrigues, and my Senate colleagues for their thoughtful approach and dedication to passing a budget that balances fiscal constraints with targeted, impactful investment in our Commonwealth.”  

The Senate’s budget recommends a total of $58 billion in spending, a $1.8 billion increase over the Fiscal Year 2024 (FY24) General Appropriations Act (GAA). This spending recommendation is based on a tax revenue estimate of $41.5 billion for FY25, which is $208 million less than revenues assumed in the FY24 GAA.… Read more.

Senate Ways and Means Releases Fiscal Year 2025 Budget Recommendations

Senate makes historic investments in early education and care and college success, prioritizes regional equity, maintains strong fiscal responsibility

(BOSTON—5/7/2024) The Senate Committee on Ways and Means on Tuesday released a $57.9 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2025 (FY25) that reflects the Senate’s vision of creating a more affordable, equitable, and competitive Massachusetts by investing in residents and communities across every district of the Commonwealth, while continuing to be fiscally responsible and chart a sustainable path forward.

“The Senate’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2025 recognizes fiscal restraints the state is facing, while ensuring critical services and programs that our residents rely on each day are upheld,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “This budget creates transformational access to higher education, opens avenues to leverage federal funds to support our healthcare system, and makes targeted investments in areas that allows residents to thrive. This fiscally responsible approach taken by the Senate is one the Commonwealth’s residents can be proud of.”

The Committee’s budget recommends a total of $57.9 billion in spending, a $1.8 billion increase over the Fiscal Year 2024 (FY24) General Appropriations Act (GAA). This sensible spending recommendation is based on a tax revenue estimate of $41.5 billion for FY25, which is $208 million less than revenues assumed in the FY24 GAA. This represents nearly flat growth, as agreed upon during the Consensus Revenue process in January, plus $1.3 billion in revenue generated from the Fair Share surtax.… Read more.

Friedman, Haggerty attend the Communities United Legislative Breakfast

WOBURN – State Representative Richard M. Haggerty (D-Woburn) and State Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) recently attended the Communities United Legislative Breakfast hosted by the Creative Start Children’s Center in Woburn. They were joined by the Center’s management team and parents to discuss the critical role preschool and early childhood education services play for young learners and their families. The Center’s Head Start program provides comprehensive services to low-income children and their families and promotes school readiness for children by supporting their growth and development in a positive learning environment. 

“Access to high-quality preschool and daycare isn’t just crucial for a child’s educational development it’s also an economic issue for working parents and promotes workforce productivity,” said Representative Haggerty. “Events like this help policymakers better understand the impact these services have on both children and their parents as we work to increase access and affordability in our communities and statewide.” 

“I have had the opportunity to visit the Creative Start Children’s Center several times, and it is the perfect example of a high-quality early education center that is doing vital work in our community,” said Senator Friedman. “As a Legislature, we need to make sure that this program and others like it can grow successfully, as we work to increase access for children and families across the Commonwealth.” 

Woburn Creative Start Children’s Center management and parents discuss importance of preschool with Representative Haggerty and Senator Friedman.

The event provided an opportunity for Representative Haggerty and Senator Friedman to hear directly from the preschool management and parents about the importance of reliable, high-quality childcare and preschool services.… Read more.

Friedman Votes for Senate Bill Authorizing $375 Million for Local Transportation Infrastructure 

Chapter 90 funding would support cities and towns with road and bridge construction, public transit improvement, and EV infrastructure 

BOSTON (4/11/2024)—Today, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) and the Massachusetts Senate unanimously approved $375 million in bond authorizations for statewide transportation projects, including the state’s Chapter 90 program, which would create a reliable funding source for local infrastructure investments like roads, bridges, regional transit equipment and infrastructure, bicycle infrastructure, and electric vehicle infrastructure, among other things.  

Projects funded by the annual legislation often improve quality of life for residents in every region of the state, and many play a role in environmental mitigation.  

Every city and town in the Commonwealth would receive a share of $200 million in funding to be used on maintenance and construction of roads and bridges. $150 million would be allocated equally to six programs targeting specific transportation infrastructure, and $25 million would be allocated to cities and towns through the rural roads program.  

“The annual Chapter 90 funding bill is our Commonwealth’s commitment to safe, accessible, and well-maintained transportation systems across Massachusetts,” said Senator Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committe on Ways and Means. “Ensuring our communities have adequate resources for common transportation, while also incentivizing transportation goals such as Complete Streets and supporting mainstream use of electric vehicles, is so vital, and Chapter 90 funding is just one of the ways the Massachusetts Legislature helps keep our residents moving.” 

Of the $375 million in total authorizations, the legislation would allocate $25 million to each of the following programs that target specific infrastructure areas:  

Read more.

Senate acts to protect firefighters, increase “hot work” safety 

Legislation would require public database of safety violations 

BOSTON (3/28/2024)—Today the Senate unanimously passed legislation to boost safety for people conducting “hot work”—welding, plasma cutting, and spark-producing construction—by requiring the state to create a public database of violations of the fire prevention statute, and a public notification system to alert workers of violations.  

The passage of S.1485An Act relative to violation of regulation regarding hot work processes—comes in the days following the ten year anniversary of the tragic nine alarm fire in the Back Bay, started by welders working on a nearby iron railing, that resulted in the deaths of two Boston firefighters.  

The Senate bill would work to prevent such tragedies by promoting transparency and prioritizing safety for Massachusetts firefighters. 

“I am glad to see this legislation moving forward to help prevent fires from hot work violations,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “Mentored by Senator Ken Donnelly, a former firefighter, I know how important it is that we mitigate the dangers that these first responders face, and I was proud to vote along with my colleagues to unanimously pass this bill.”  

Having been passed by the Senate, the bill now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration. 

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Senate acts to protect consumers, make debt collections fairer 

Debt Collection Fairness Act would protect wages and reduce exorbitant interest charges 

BOSTON (3/28/2024)—Today, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) and her colleagues in the Massachusetts Senate unanimously passed legislation to protect consumers and help keep people from being pushed into financial ruin if they are sued for financial debt. The new law would make debt collection practices fairer, protect wages, and make clear that no person can go to prison for their debt.  

The Debt Collection Fairness Act— S.2713—would protect thousands of families across the state, including many in communities of color, by reducing the interest rate from 12% to 3% on judgments on consumer debt, which is often old debt that has been bought by debt collection companies for pennies on the dollar. 

It would also protect at least $975 in wages per week from a person subject to wage garnishment because of a debt and ensure that no one in the Commonwealth is imprisoned for failure to pay a consumer debt. Currently only $750 per week in wages is protected from garnishment. The bill would also reduce, from 6 years to 5 years, the time in which a company can bring suit to collect a consumer debt.  

“For residents in the Commonwealth, debt collection can ravage a family’s financial and personal well-being,” said Senator Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “This legislation protects consumers by safeguarding more wages from garnishment and reducing debt interest from predatory to reasonable levels. I am hopeful that these important measures will soon become law.” … Read more.

Senate passes supplemental budget, creates roadmap for emergency shelter system 

Legislation pairs emergency assistance with long-term shelter framework and workforce training 

BOSTON (03/21/2024)—Today, after extensive debate, the Massachusetts Senate passed S.2708, a supplemental budget which would make additional appropriations to the emergency shelter system while taking proactive and fiscally responsible steps to ensure its long term effectiveness. Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) voted in favor of the legislation, which also supports workforce training programs for families who have recently migrated to Massachusetts.  

The bill requires each family in shelter to receive an individualized rehousing plan; eligibility for shelter after nine months would be contingent upon compliance with the rehousing plan, with certain categorical exemptions. The bill comes on the heels of Congress torpedoing bipartisan, commonsense federal immigration reforms which would have brought assistance to the Commonwealth.  

“This supplemental budget addresses some of the biggest challenges our Commonwealth’s Emergency Assistance shelter program has faced in recent months,” said Senator Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “Understanding the extreme complexity of the shelter system, the Senate plan balances the financial impacts of this program with the humanitarian interests of our state, ensuring that we remain a welcoming and supportive destination for families fleeing devastation in other areas of the world. It also provides important supports for Massachusetts families who are homeless, currently making up over half the families living in our shelter system. This supplemental budget contains provisions that allow for our state government to take a regional focus on resettlement and workforce training initiatives to prevent homelessness and improve self-sufficiency and outcomes for those families i.” … Read more.

Friedman Votes to Prevent Abuse and Exploitation Online 

Senate bill would criminalize dissemination of explicit photos without a subject’s permission 

BOSTON (3/21/2024)—Today, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) and her colleagues in the Massachusetts Senate unanimously passed An Act to prevent abuse and exploitation, bipartisan legislation that would criminalize the sharing of sexually explicit images or videos without an individual’s consent and implement a comprehensive educational diversion program designed for adolescents on the consequences of posting indecent visual depictions online. 

The bill, S.2073, increases the allowable fine for unlawful distribution of indecent images, and rein in coercive control of abusers. 

“This legislation will finally place Massachusetts in line with almost every state in the nation and codifies protections for individuals from online exploitation,” said Senator Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “It is vital that we update our laws to reflect the realities of the digital age, especially to ensure better practices of handling these incidents in schools and among our youth.” 
 
 
The bill requires the Office of the Child Advocate (OCA) to develop and implement a comprehensive educational diversion program designed for adolescents on the consequences of sexting and posting indecent visuals online. It also requires the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to encourage school districts to implement instruction on age-appropriate media literacy skills and to use this content from the Office of the Child Advocate’s comprehensive educational diversion program. 

The bill defines coercive control as a single act or pattern of behavior intended to threaten, intimidate, control, or compel compliance of a family or household member that causes a fear of physical harm or a reduced sense of physical safety.… Read more.

Massachusetts Senate Acts to Transform Early Education and Care  

EARLY ED Act would expand accessible, affordable, and high-quality care across the state 

BOSTON (3/14/2024)—Today, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) joined her colleagues in the Massachusetts Senate to unanimously pass legislation to make early education and care more accessible and affordable for families across Massachusetts.  

The EARLY ED ActAn Act ensuring affordability, readiness and learning for our youth and driving economic development—takes transformative steps to improve the affordability and sustainability of childcare programs by making the state’s Commonwealth Cares for Children (C3) operational grant program permanent, expanding eligibility for the state’s subsidy program and capping subsidy recipients’ childcare costs at 7 per cent of family income, and boosting compensation for educators by creating a career ladder and providing scholarships and loan forgiveness. 

“I am proud of the Senate’s continued leadership to rein in costs and increase access to early education and childcare, giving our youngest minds a running start at learning,” said Senator Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “For far too long in Massachusetts families have struggled to afford adequate childcare, and often women are the ones who have to leave the workforce to meet a family’s need. This massive inequity, coupled with many other challenges in the early education and childcare space, are addressed by this bill. The urgency of addressing this situation is marked by today’s unanimous Senate vote — this bill needs to cross the finish line this session, parents and families in the Commonwealth simply cannot wait any longer. … Read more.

Friedman, Senate Pass the SAFER Act: Consensus, Commonsense Gun Reform for Massachusetts 

Endorsed by gun violence prevention advocates, district attorneys, and police chiefs, bill is set to protect residents and modernize firearm laws, following extensive debate in the Senate 

BOSTON (2/1/2024)—Today, with bipartisan support, the Massachusetts Senate passed An Act to sensibly address firearm violence through effective reform—the SAFER Act—to increase firearm safety in the state without infringing on the rights of gun owners. Following a thorough debate amongst members on the Senate floor, the bill passed 37 to 3, with Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) voting in support of the legislation. 

The omnibus legislationS.2572was introduced following extensive testimony at a November hearing of the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security, where the public provided over four hours of testimony on more than 50 gun safety bills before the committee. Led by Majority Leader Cynthia Stone Creem, the bill’s passage follows months of discussions which included stakeholders and advocates with diverse perspectives on the issue. 

The bill’s provisions would help make residents safer—and ultimately save lives—by building on the Commonwealth’s already strong record on gun safety and updating laws to prevent those who wish to do harm from being able to access and use deadly weapons. It would reform and modernize the state’s firearm laws, support the state’s public safety and public health infrastructure in mitigating gun violence, and strengthen accountability and oversight mechanisms for illegal gun activity. 

“The Supreme Court’s repeal of gun safety policies in recent years, in tandem with a drastic rise in gun violence nationwide, makes it impossible for us to ignore this moment – we must take meaningful action on this critical issue,” said Senator Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.… Read more.