Month: July 2016

Springfield City Council Endorses Senator Lesser’s Feasibility Study on East/West Rail

SPRINGFIELD- The Springfield City Council voted unanimously on Monday, June 20th in favor of Sen. Eric P. Lesser’s legislation requiring the Massachusetts Department of Transportation to conduct a study on the feasibility of passenger rail access between Springfield and Boston. The measure unanimously passed the Massachusetts Senate in May. In March 2016, this same bill was given a positive recommendation by the Legislature’s Transportation Committee.

Speaking on the Senate floor in favor of the study, Senator Lesser said, “Much of what we focus on is making sure all the people of our Commonwealth have equal access to opportunity. A growing component of that is regional inequality. And we cannot have a functioning Commonwealth if all the growth, if all of the job opportunities are concentrated in the Boston area.”

The City Council echoed Senator Lesser’s sentiments, writing in a resolution sponsored by Councilor Shea: “Improving the existing rail connection between Springfield and Boston will help us connect people, ideas, and jobs, having a transformative effect on our entire region. The Springfield City Council goes on record as supporting Massachusetts Senate Bill 1849, An Act to Study the Feasibility of High-Speed Rail Access Between Springfield and Boston.”

Councilor Shea commented, “Effective rail, if we’re able to obtain that, really opens up our economy, our job market and our housing market. This is evidenced by what has happened in Worcester, and evidenced by all the towns in Connecticut served by Metro North. It’s unfortunate that Western Mass has gone this long without this service.”

Currently, the fastest existing passenger rail link from Springfield to Boston, Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited, only runs once a day and takes 135 minutes. Improvements to the existing infrastructure could mean trains running at 70 mph or higher, cutting travel times down to 90 minutes, with multiple departures per day.

Recent discussion of east-west rail comes at a crucial point for transportation development in Western Massachusetts. An $83 million renovation of Union Station is expected to be completed by the end of this year, which will serve as a new transit hub, combining North-South and East-West rail with regional and intercity bus service.

In addition, the reconstruction of the “Knowledge Corridor” and the pending completion of the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield rail project will bring a steady flow of rail passengers through Springfield. Downtown Springfield is also expected to attract thousands of new visitors due to upcoming openings of the MGM Springfield casino and the Dr. Seuss Museum, along with the establishment of both the Springfield Cultural and Innovation Districts.

Senator Lesser visits Belchertown School Committee

BELCHERTOWN- Senator Lesser visited the Belchertown School Committee meeting on Tuesday night to answer questions about education debates on Beacon Hill and hear the concerns of school committee members and Belchertown residents.

“This meeting gave me a chance to discuss charter schools, unfunded mandates, the opioid crisis, and ways that my office can help develop an in-house engineering program at Belchertown High School,” said Senator Lesser. “It was a great opportunity to hear from community members about the challenges facing our schools, and to work together towards solutions.”

 

Senator Lesser Supports Ludlow PD’s K9 Unit

Senator Lesser attended the Ludlow Police Department’s annual pasta dinner to raise funds for their K9 unit on Thursday, June 16th, with officers and event volunteers.

“I fight for our public safety officers in hearings, caucuses and debates on Beacon Hill, but it’s more fun to support them when there’s pasta involved!” said Senator Lesser. “I’m happy to help Ludlow fund their K-9 unit.”

 

Senator Lesser Votes to Ease Senior Citizens’ Property Tax Burden

BOSTON – Senator Eric P. Lesser voted to pass S. 1494, An Act increasing the property tax deferral for seniors. This legislation would offer property tax relief to homeowners age 65 or older by increasing the local option cap on income to $80,000 per year. If this local option is adopted by a city or town, seniors can defer paying all or a portion of their property taxes until their home is sold or conveyed.

 

Seniors who wish to remain in their homes are struggling to pay rising property taxes while living on fixed incomes. Those who own their homes often have difficulties making ends meet as the years go by and their fixed income loses its buying power.

 

“Many of our seniors are struggling to stay in the homes where they raised their families,” said Senator Lesser. “A property tax bill can be the biggest expense of the year. Increasing the income cap allows more seniors to participate in the property tax deferral program, granting much needed relief and allowing seniors to stay in their homes longer.”

 

The Senate’s bill also includes a provision sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) allowing seniors to earn additional property tax relief by participating in community volunteer work.

 

The bill was unanimously passed with a 35-0 vote and now moves to the House of Representatives for their consideration.