Issues & Priorities
As State Senator, I will always be accessible to each of the 57 communities and consistently put the stamp of our region on decisions in Boston. I will be a bold and effective voice for Western Mass–whether in the city streets of Pittsfield or a town hall in Granville–l will be a Senator that you know and that shows up. In the coming months, we will continue to discuss a platform and vision that prioritizes us: the people of Western Massachusetts and the Commonwealth as a whole. I look forward to hearing from you about what matters most.
The COVID-19 Pandemic has been the worst public health crisis in modern history. Within weeks of the declared emergency, Paul filed several pieces of emergency legislation to address the most pressing issues, from unprecedented levels of unemployment, to the right to vote, to helping our small businesses. While COVID numbers are presently going down and the CDC has relaxed mask recommendations, it’s clear that we will never fully be rid of this disease. In addition, this pandemic has highlighted and worsened structural injustices that need to be addressed. Better preventive and proactive measures need to be taken for any future surges or health crises we may face, ensuring every resident has equal access to support from the Commonwealth, no matter their zip code.
“Education, beyond all other devices of human origin, is the great equalizer of the conditions of [people], the balance-wheel of the social machinery.” Horace Mann, 19th Century Public Education Reformer from Massachusetts
As parents stayed home and children learned in front of screens during the pandemic, flaws in our public education system have only been exacerbated. Some children still have no access to computers or broadband. Many students with essential worker parents struggled with no adults to help with at-home learning. College students fell further into debt while missing out on many in-person experiences that are key to college life, and teachers have been balancing lesson plans for online learning and in-person teaching simultaneously. It’s been difficult, to say the least. Ending the digital divide, whether based on geography, economic status, disability challenges, or the institutionalized racial inequities we must still battle every day, every student in the Commonwealth deserves access to high-quality public education.
Paul knows the importance of access and opportunity. He’ll work to create debt-free higher education options for all, focus on more vocational training and workforce development, and ensure teachers and districts get the resources they desperately need by fixing the Chapter 70 funding formula. This includes fully reimbursing regional transportation costs, offering rural sparsity aid, and funding the many state mandates that are currently languishing with no fiscal support–despite being required by law.
As devastating as COVID-19 has been for our country, our dysfunctional healthcare system has only made matters worse. At the height of the pandemic, thousands of workers in Western Massachusetts lost their jobs, and along with those jobs went health insurance. People put off visiting doctors more than ever, including patients with chronic issues and life-threatening diagnoses. Meanwhile, the opioid epidemic raged on in our district as care options diminished. The conditions of isolation, fear, and grief exacerbated mental health challenges for people, bringing home the urgent need for expanded services in our rural community health centers and more of these services throughout the region. And while Paul was at the forefront of support for the ROE Act, the right to access reproductive healthcare continues to suffer attacks nationally. Paul will fight to make sure that healthcare is accessible, protected, and affordable to all.
Healthcare is a human right. Our healthcare cannot be tied to employment, and getting sick should not mean financial devastation for people. We have a chance to bring healthcare to every person across the Commonwealth—no matter where they live, what their employment status is, or what their health history may be. That’s why Paul is an inaugural member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives Medicare for All Caucus and will continue to lead on this issue in the Senate.
When it comes to the climate crisis, we must act quickly. Not just to protect our region’s natural beauty and mitigate the worst and broader effects of climate change, but to seize what is also a genuine opportunity to create good-paying Union jobs, boost economic growth, protect environmental justice communities, and save consumers and businesses billions of dollars.
With the passage of the Next Generation Climate Roadmap Bill, our state has established aggressive emissions targets that we must meet both within each sector of our economy and collectively. As State Senator, Paul will be a strong advocate for policies and initiatives that enable us to meet these targets in a way that ensures a just and equitable future for all residents in Western Massachusetts and across the Commonwealth and ensure communities of color and underserved communities do not continue to bear the brunt of the adverse effects of energy policies.
Through harnessing the power of clean energy, electrifying the transportation sector, and weatherizing our homes and business, Massachusetts has an opportunity to be a true leader in clean energy transition and tackling climate change.
Paul’s access to opportunity started when he secured full-time employment as a lineman with the phone company and joined the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). Six months into working at the phone company, the members of IBEW went on strike against Verizon to retain healthcare benefits and job security. Having learned much from his co-workers, Paul became more involved with the union during this time. Paul held several union offices, including COPE Director, Press Secretary, Executive Board member, Central Labor Council Delegate, and Union Steward. Today, he remains a proud dues-paying, card-carrying member of the IBEW and the Massachusetts Teachers’ Association (MTA).
Paul has been one of the strongest labor leaders in the legislature because supporting labor and working families leads to a more equitable and just economic system, both locally and statewide. Multinational corporations and the top 1% have had an unfair chokehold on our economy and spend obscene amounts of money to limit workers from access to fair wages, union membership, workplace dignity, and workplaces free from harassment. The Working Class is fighting back. Right now, we have a tremendous opportunity, coupled with Federal ARPA money and the revitalization of the labor movement, to make new investments and re-envision our economy so that it works for everyone.
From the Berkshires to the Hilltowns, we have a unique local economy that needs support from the state. The pandemic caused untold financial instability and loss, forcing a number of restaurants and storefront businesses to close permanently. Looking ahead to the future, we need to prioritize economic development programs and aid small businesses trying to recoup from the last two years.
Transportation and infrastructure are critical to ensuring that our communities in Western Massachusetts thrive and connect to the rest of the state. At this moment in our state’s history, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make significant and critical investments to ensure that our communities have good roads, safe bridges, climate-resilient infrastructure, improved public transportation, and the ability to travel to our state’s capital by rail. As our next State Senator, Paul will work hard to deliver these services to our district and fight on Beacon Hill to get the resources that our region deserves. From pushing big policies like West-East rail, which would provide passenger railroad routes from the Pittsfield to Boston, to making sure that our smallest communities have sufficient funds to improve their roads and install high-speed internet, Paul will be a tireless advocate for investments that will improve the quality of life of so many in our region.
From our spectacular Atlantic Coast to the rolling foothills and landscapes of the Berkshires and the richness of the Connecticut River Valley, a considerable part of what makes our region so beloved is our local farms and agriculture. From Maple production to honey, from produce to flowers, there is so much that we can grow here. Policymakers need to ensure the protection of our agricultural entrepreneurship and incentivize our farmers to stay, expand, and last for generations.
We know that agriculture is an essential component of the local economy of Western Massachusetts. According to the Western Mass Climate Change Impact Assessment (WMCCIA), between Berkshire, Hampden, Franklin, and Hampshire counties, over 130 million dollars is generated annually from agricultural practices, with over 235,000 acres allocated toward farming.
Standing up for our local farms and farmers is something Paul will prioritize in the State Senate. From incentivizing agricultural land preservation and sustainable farming practices, requiring public institutions to purchase local products and produce, and by educating and training the next generation of farmers.
Democracy is not a guarantee and shouldn’t be taken for granted. Rather it is a responsibility that needs to be protected and preserved. Championing common sense reforms like same-day voter registration, access to the ballot including early and remote voting, stronger public records laws and enforcement, and continued work to keep special interest money out of our politics.
From advancing civics education and community service, forming a youth council for this office, and ensuring accessible constituent services, these are just some of the ways that we foster public participation in our democracy.
Housing needs to be considered a Human Right. Right now, we are facing a housing crisis in Western Massachusetts and throughout the Commonwealth. Massachusetts has some of the highest costs of buying or renting compared to the rest of the nation. The median sale price for a single-family home in Massachusetts is $485,000! In addition, there aren’t enough affordable options–or options at all–and that prohibits young people and families from living here. We also know that Black people and LGBTQ+ people disproportionately face housing discrimination and are more likely to become homeless. This is unacceptable.
Investments in emergency housing and shelter, public housing options, and fully funding supportive housing services and first time homeowner programs in our state budget are a few ways we can address this issue and ensure equity in the process.
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PAID FOR BY THE COMMITTEE TO ELECT PAUL MARK