Report is result of statewide Millennial Engagement Initiative led by Sen. Eric Lesser
Recommendations include improved transit options, government transparency and financial literacy education
BOSTON — On Wednesday, Senate President Stan Rosenberg and the State Senate’s bipartisan group of millennial legislators unveiled the Senate’s report on its 2016 Millennial Engagement Initiative, sharing the priorities of millennial residents from across the Commonwealth.
Senator Eric P. Lesser led the Senate’s millennial outreach last year with a series of roundtable discussions with millennials in 11 cities and towns across the Commonwealth. Rosenberg, Lesser and Millennial Caucus co-chair Ryan C. Fattman heard directly from young people about the policies they would like to see state government pursue.
The senators’ main takeaway was that young people have a growing frustration with both private and public institutions, and that more direct engagement from elected representatives is necessary.
One major recommendation from the Millennial Engagement Initiative report is that legislators should promote civics and financial literacy education to better prepare young people to get results from complex institutions. This will help them address political challenges and better manage their finances.
The Initiative also found that young people are burdened with large amounts of debt — not only student loans, but credit card payments and housing costs as well. They also need more diverse transportation options, since millennials are not buying cars as their parents’ generation did and rely more on public transit.
The senators’ report recommends a series of proposed bills, including Lesser’s Student Loan Bill of Rights to protect borrowers from servicers that steer them into costly repayment plans; a study of rapid transit systems introduced by Senator Patrick M. O’Connor; and several bills introduced to promote financial literacy education in schools.
The report formally establishes the state legislative Millennial Caucus to advance, monitor and evaluate the recommended policies in the report. And it creates a “Millennial Scorecard” to track the progress of these policies and show what Massachusetts legislators did to support the Millennial Agenda throughout the 2017-2018 session.
The full report can be found at www.SenatorLesser.com/mei.
“Senator Lesser and Senator Fattman, as a result of a robust process of direct engagement across the Commonwealth, have produced a report that highlights what millennials expect from their government. It is my hope that we will incorporate the recommendations of their report into the Senate agenda for this session,” said Senate President Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst).
“Young people around the Commonwealth made clear from our conversations that they need our support in demystifying the large, complex and sometimes out-of-touch public and private institutions that have left them out of the conversation about their future. The generation that grew up with technology and innovation is not satisfied with the status quo. It is our job to produce results on the issues that matter to them, from improving transportation access to reducing student loan burdens to preparing them for their financial futures,” said Senator Eric P. Lesser (D-Longmeadow).
“There are close to 76 million millennials in America; we now make up the largest living generation in the country. The perpetual idea that each generation should be better off than the previous one has dimmed in recent years, but through these policy initiatives it is our hope to harness innovation, creativity, and continue to give Americans the best foundation possible to be successful,” said Senator Ryan C. Fattman (R-Sutton).
Since Lesser, 31, and Fattman, 33, were elected as the youngest members of the State Senate in 2014, three more millennial lawmakers have joined them in the Senate: Joseph A. Boncore, Julian Cyr and Patrick M. O’Connor.
“As baby boomers retire, we have generational responsibility to lead in their place,” said Senator Joseph A. Boncore (D-Winthrop). “We can’t expect anyone to listen if we’re using the same old voice. The MEI report represents our generation’s biggest concerns and the first steps in addressing them.”
“Millennials provide hope for a future Commonwealth — and society — that is guided by the consensus values of our generation: tolerance, innovation, fairness, and a belief in service. Yet Millennials face unique challenges that no prior generation has encountered: student debt, stagnant wages, and a grim housing market. It is incumbent upon Millennials — especially those of us who already have a seat at the table – to promote out of the box policy solutions and restore civility in the American experiment,” said Senator Julian Cyr (D-Truro).
“The future of a strong democracy relies on getting young people involved in state and local government. Millennials’ voices need to be heard on critical issues from student loan reform to housing initiatives so that they can help shape their own futures,” said Senator Patrick O’Connor (R-Weymouth). “The priorities and legislation outlined in this report represent some important steps that the Legislature can take to make sure that Massachusetts gives millennials the platform they need to succeed.”