Monday, April 30, 2007

MA Gov. and Legs. Announce Taxation Study

Governor, Legislative Leaders Announce Study Commission on Corporate Taxation

BOSTON – Monday, April 30, 2007 – Governor Deval Patrick, Senate President Therese Murray, and Speaker of the House Salvatore F. DiMasi announced today the creation of a Study Commission on Corporate Taxation, naming 15 members to review and offer recommendations for streamlining the current tax code.

The mandate of the Commission is to study the modernization and simplification of the current business tax laws of the Commonwealth, to promote tax fairness and equity, encourage business growth and innovation, and strengthen the Commonwealth’s global competitiveness. An interim report on legislative recommendations providing revenue for Fiscal Year 2008 will be due by June 15, 2007. A final report on long-term changes to corporate tax laws will be completed by January 1, 2008.

“We have set an ambitious timeline for the initial findings and we expect the commission to meet that deadline,” said Governor Patrick. “At hand is the issue of the fundamental fairness of our tax code—an issue that we must address in a swift and comprehensive fashion. What businesses are looking for more than anything is predictability and fairness, and I believe the commission members appointed today will set us on the path to determining how best to achieve that tax equality and ensure Massachusetts is an attractive place for business to expand and locate here.”

“This is a positive approach towards giving the Governor's tax proposals due consideration because the commission will take a comprehensive and thorough look at the entire corporate tax code," said Senate President Therese Murray. "I hope the panel will find ways to make the code predictable and equitable to the business community and at the same time yield additional revenues for the Commonwealth."

“The work of this diverse commission is very important at a critical period in the Commonwealth’s fiscal and economic future,” said House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi. “The tax code in Massachusetts must be made more simple, equitable and predictable. We must also strike the right balance between businesses paying their fair share and limiting the financial burdens we place on employers that may stifle job growth and limit our revenues far into the future.”

The mandate of the Commission specifically includes: reviewing the Governor’s bill, House No. 3756, An Act Improving the Fairness of the Tax Laws; other subjects of business taxation, including (1) the preferential tax treatment of security corporations, (2) the appropriate method for calculating credits for research and development credits, (3) the scope and ongoing need for the various exemptions from the sales and use taxes, (4) appropriate taxation of digital products, (5) estimated tax payment rules for individuals, (6) the substitution of refundable credits for transferable credits, (7) use of gambling losses on personal income tax returns, (8) the imposition of the cigar excise on wholesale transactions, and (9) the calculation of the non-income measure of the corporate excise; and the Commonwealth’s participation in the Streamlined Sales Tax Compact.

Commission members include:

· Leslie Kirwan, Secretary of Administration and Finance, Chair*

· Representative John Binienda, House Chair, Joint Committee on Revenue*

· Senator Cynthia Creem, Senate Chair, Joint Committee on Revenue*

· Representative Bradley Jones, House Minority Leader*

· Senator Richard Tisei, Senate Minority Leader*

· Alan LeBovidge, Commissioner of Revenue*

· Professor Alan Clayton-Matthews, UMass Boston

· Joseph Donovan, tax lawyer, Sullivan and Worcester

· Karl Fryzel, tax lawyer, Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge

· Stephen W. Kidder, Managing Partner, Hemenway & Barnes

· Kevin Long, CPA

· Eileen McAnneny, Associated Industries of Massachusetts

· Jane Steinmetz, Partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers

· Robert Tannenwald, Economist and Director, New England Public Policy Center, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston

· Michael Widmer, President, Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Gov. Patrick Addresses Growing Home Forclosure Issue

BOSTON – Wednesday, April 25, 2007 – Governor Deval L. Patrick announced today both immediate regulatory action and proposed legislation to assist families facing home foreclosures. The announcement of these proposals – based on the recommendations of the recent Mortgage Summit Group report – was made at the Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations’ (MACDC) Legislative Action Day.

“It is vital that we have an effective and immediate action plan in place to help homeowners facing foreclosures,” said Governor Patrick. “Addressing this problem requires a comprehensive approach that provides for greater education and information for consumers before securing a mortgage; more robust regulatory controls over brokers and lenders; a more responsive legal framework for homeowners facing foreclosure, and clear consequences for those who engage in mortgage fraud.”

Initiatives announced include:

· Immediately bolstering the state’s efforts on consumer assistance and education for homeowners who may be facing foreclosure, including: an enhanced hotline; a new awareness campaign; and referrals to reputable foreclosure counselors and lenders willing to be of assistance.

· Implementing regulatory changes that increase licensing and education requirements for mortgage lenders and brokers to eliminate disreputable firms and practices.

· Drafting legislation to increase protections for consumers and provide penalties for mortgage fraud, including: criminalizing mortgage fraud; prohibiting abusive foreclosure rescue schemes; creating a mandatory pre-foreclosure filing notice; and establishing a central repository of foreclosure notices at the Division of Banks.

· Building on the partnerships between government, non-profit organizations, and the mortgage industry to improve the support for homeowners and monitoring of the industry. Joint efforts would include: developing a foreclosure intervention mortgage program; reviewing and identifying false, deceptive, and misleading advertising practices; reviewing sales practices of real estate brokers and salespersons that refer clients to mortgage lenders and brokers; improving the existing process of mortgage disclosure and pre and post closing consumer education; and creating a web site on financial education.

The Governor’s actions encompass recommendations put forth by the Mortgage Summit Group that was convened in response to rising foreclosures both locally and nationally. The Group, led by Commissioner of Banks Steven L. Antonakes, included nearly 50 participants from government agencies, non-profit organizations, and the mortgage lending industries who convened to develop a comprehensive foreclosure prevention strategy.

“We really appreciate the Governor taking the time to speak with us and articulate so forcefully the need for action to address the foreclosure crisis,” says Joseph Kriesberg, President of MACDC. “There are solutions to these problems, such as requiring mortgage companies to meet the same responsible lending standards as banks do, making the foreclosure process fairer to homeowners, and providing better counseling and education to consumers.”

The Governor will be working closely with House and Senate leaders as well as Attorney General Martha Coakley as the bill he drafts encompassing these initiatives is being finalized. The administration is also supportive of foreclosure prevention legislation already filed by Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, Senator Jarrett Barrios, and Representative David Torrisi.

Governor Patrick has been involved in fighting predatory lending and helping to reform lending practices for nearly two decades, both as a private lawyer in Boston and as chief of the Civil Rights Division in the U.S. Justice Department. As a private attorney, he helped fight for consumers being scammed by illegal tactics by lenders which resulted in a settlement of $11 million in low-income housing and low-interest loans. His work on behalf of consumers also helped lead to a settlement between Baybanks and then-Attorney General Scott Harshbarger, which at the time was considered the “start of a national solution” to lending scams.

Friday, April 20, 2007

VoteOnMarriage's "Public" Meeting in Beverly Farms

A group of pro-equality supporters went to see what was going on at the VoteOnMarriage meeting held at the Beverly Farms Public Library Thursday night. We figured we would go there, listen to what they had to say, and mingle with the opposition after the meeting had concluded. Director of Tom Lang, and his spouse Alex Westerhoff had done so at the meeting in Rockport, and were well received, so there was no reason to think this meeting would be any different. Nothing could have been further from the truth. First, the meeting was supposed to commence at 6:00pm, but when no one else had shown up, the meeting was delayed. By 6:35pm it was clear that there were no others coming, the five people that already were there were all the support VOM had mustered here. Perhaps they felt embarrassed that more people had not supported them. We did have about six times the people come to support us. Maybe they had some messages that they didn't want us to here. Whatever the case may be, they told Lang that it was "in very poor taste" for him to have come, and they took their "meeting" elsewhere. All five of them. Much to my chagrin, they took the donuts too.

Since we had a classroom of people, a cleared meeting room, and some time to kill, we all sat down and talked with each other for nearly three hours. In that time I met Steve Galante and Bill Pluckhahn, the two local gentlemen that have adopted five children. Famous photographer Marilyn Humphries was there, as well as Professor Patricia Gozemba, who has teamed up with Humphries to give us a very excellent documentary called "Courting Equality". Be sure to check out their website, There was a woman who had recently lost her significant other up in New Hampshire, and was dealing with the inheritance issues of not being in a legally recognized marriage. Co-founder and director of Aaron Toleos was there, as well as Greg Kimball, treasurer. Along with other gay community members were three straight couples, and a lone straight married gentleman. all expressed varying levels of having had enough of the fear factor VoteOnMarriage has created.

Unlike our opponents, we did not spend our time trying to demonize those who oppose us. Instead, we spoke about our personal struggles, and our hopes for the future. A future in which we all live side by side as equals, and treat our neighbors as a neighbor should. What I saw were good people standing up for what they believe in, and standing against the mistruths that are so often used to scare people into forgetting that we are all human. In being human we are deserving of being judged by the content of our character, and the merits of our actions and intents. Many asked what we can do to correct the wrongs being visited upon us by the "moral" right. Our power lies in the truth, and in having our supporters call their legislators. The other strength is that we have only begun to utilize networking. The "Gay Agenda" as it is called is really nothing but a farce. One that has been perpetuated by those who would use fear to control people who are easily led. It is as much a myth as BigFoot and unicorns.

That being said, we all agreed to stay in touch, and to clear our schedules for the May 9th Con-Con. Picking up a phone or making a donation is one thing, but physically showing up to demand that all people be treated equal is entirely another. We are not an agenda, or an evil force Hell bent on scuttling what our neighbors value. We are real people, and hopefully the legislators will see a few extra faces this time around to think about before they decide how to best settle the devisive issue of marriage equality.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Governor's Chief of Staff to Leave Post


Press Release

BOSTON – Thursday, April 12, 2007 -- Governor Deval Patrick today announced that Chief of Staff Joan Wallace-Benjamin has been asked by her former employer, The Home for Little Wanderers, to return to her position as President/CEO of the non-profit organization and she has accepted. Dr. Wallace-Benjamin will stay on with the Patrick administration for an interim period to aid with the transition to a new Chief of Staff prior to her returning to the Home for Little Wanderers.

"It has been a privilege to serve Governor Patrick and his administration throughout the months of transition and in the first months of the new administration,” said Dr. Wallace-Benjamin. “Together we appointed a qualified and talented Cabinet and senior staff leadership, and brought an open, inclusive and welcoming tenor to the statehouse and to our government."

"Joan has done a tremendous job, both with the transition and during the first few months of the administration, helping to build our staff, achieve our first 100 days accomplishments and get the administration off to a strong start," said Governor Patrick. "I appreciate her friendship, hard work and dedication to public service, and wish her all the best as she returns to a place that she loves."

Prior to joining the Patrick Administration, Joan Wallace-Benjamin served as President/CEO for the Home for Little Wanderers for four years. The Home for Little Wanderers is the nation's oldest and one of New England's largest, private, non-profit child and family service agencies, providing services to thousands of children and their families through 20 programs each year. The mission of The Home is to ensure the healthy emotional, mental, and social development of children at risk, their families, and communities through an integrated system of prevention, advocacy, research, and a continuum of direct care services.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


Plan Outlines Steps to Deliver Passenger Service by 2016;

Commits $17 Million to Initial Phase

DARTMOUTH – Wednesday, April 4, 2007 – Governor Deval Patrick today announced a Plan for Action to bring passenger rail service to the South Coast by 2016. The Governor’s initiative sets forth 10 action items necessary to deliver rail service to one of the Commonwealth's fastest growing, yet underserved regions.

“For nearly 20 years, Massachusetts governors have promised the residents of Southeastern Massachusetts access to the transit system that links the cities and towns of eastern Massachusetts,” said Governor Patrick. “In those two decades we have seen the economic and environmental benefits of extended commuter rail in other parts of the Commonwealth, while much of the potential of the South Coast has gone untapped. I am here today to end the talking and get to work.”

While progress on South Coast commuter rail service has been stagnant over the past two decades, today’s announcement fulfills a commitment by the Patrick-Murray Administration to unveil an action plan within the Administration's first 90 days. The South Coast Rail project would deliver passenger rail transportation from Boston's South Station to the cities of Fall River and New Bedford.

“This administration is fully committed to bringing rail access to the South Coast,” said Governor Patrick. “I promised that we would have a timeline for this project within the first 90 days of this administration, and we have one.”

“The Patrick-Murray administration is committed to economic development and improving the quality of life in all corners of the Commonwealth,” Lieutenant Governor Murray added. “Today’s announcement demonstrates that our long-term vision and commitment extends beyond the 128 corridor and recognizes the South Coast as a vital component of our statewide economy.”

Commuter rail service is expected to help South Coast communities attract new private investment, while providing vital infrastructure improvements to spur significant economic development for the burgeoning South Coast communities. The project requires the region to work in partnership with the Commonwealth to develop a sustainable economic development and land use plan that fosters further job growth and boosts ridership. Commuter rail service will also improve access to affordable housing for Boston area workers, while improving air quality by reducing regional automobile congestion.

"Commuter rail service generates meaningful transportation, economic and environmental benefits to the communities it serves," said Transportation Secretary Bernard Cohen. “This blueprint carries the weight of an Administration that is committed to bringing commuter rail service to the South Coast."

The plan details the 10 action items necessary to complete the project, among them:

· evaluating and developing sound economic development and land use planning;

· executing a comprehensive public outreach campaign;

· acquiring the necessary right-of-way;

· completing the state and federal environmental review process;

· securing the appropriate environmental permits;

· completing the project's design and station siting, and constructing the project, including capacity improvements to South Station and building a mid-day layover facility.

Completion of the project is estimated to cost $1.4 billion. The Administration has made an initial bonding commitment of $17.2 million, which will advance the project through FY2010. New revenue sources will be needed to pay for the full cost of the project. Meanwhile, the Administration will work with the municipalities along the new rail corridor to ensure that the project prompts sustainable economic development to help support the financing of this project and other state transportation needs.

During the course of the project, the public will also be available to review project developments, share opinions and learn more about the proposed rail service through the project website – – which will be launched shortly.