Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Sales Tax

The Massachusetts House of Representatives voted strongly Tuesday in favor of an increase in the MA sales tax to 6.25%.  The House voted 108-51 in favor of the increase, a veto-proof 2/3 majority.  After Governor Patrick threatened to veto any increase in sales tax Tuesday afternoon, the House didn't vote until Speaker DeLeo was confident the ayes would have it by a 2/3 majority.  The increase would raise about $900 million for the state over the course of a year.  

Read the whole story from Boston.com

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Testifying to the Legislature

One Massachusetts and then Blue Mass Group blogged about our testimony.  In case anyone was curious.  And the comments on the Blue Mass Group post are interesting.  Most people think what we're doing is awesome.  One person says "It always amazes me how quickly those that pay no taxes (kids) embrace the idea of the rest of us paying more".  Even though, of course, we would pay a meals tax.  And no Boston residents would pay the hotels tax.  And we could be paying the parking excise tax if we didn't use the T, which adults can use as well.  

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Student Union

So, Jenny Sazama thought that it might be a good idea if we headed the formation of the student union because we're student run and we're not affiliated with anyone else, but we have to remember that the BSAC kids have spent a long time working on this.  She also hadn't consulted them yet when she suggested that to us and they won't necessarily want us to take their project over.  

Also, I talked later to Wilne from BSAC and Tatiana from SL (Sociadad Latina) and Wilne said that there is an organization called BFF (not best friends forever, but Wilne wasn't sure what it stands for) and they are working on the student union.  He said people from all the different organizations of the coalition were part of that except us, so we should look into that.  

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Hi everyone!
So today I skipped school to go to a budget hearing before the state legislature. Unfortunately, I was unable to testify, but a few coalition members did in support of local options taxes. Hopefully, the revenue committee (the guys we testified to) will vote out favorably on the bill that would allow the legislature to vote for us to raise our local options here in boston.

Also, Jenny Sazama from BSAC has decided that we should head their student union campaign. I'd like to get everyone's input on whether or not we think bsac should be involved or on what level, because of jenny's (an adult's) close work with them.

Finally, I had an idea for an action. We could get students to boycott restaurants that don't support the meals tax and have a day where we all go out to eat at the restaurants that do support it! It'd be a nice way to get ourselves out there and support the businesses that are pro-meals tax. what do you think?

Monday, March 30, 2009

Legislators, Recap on Meeting w/ Mayor, Rally, and beyond.

Hey all, I got back from a coalition meeting a couple hours ago and thought I would post about some of the things that went down.

Just some quick additions to what Maya posted about the mayor's meeting:

-It was noted that at one point, after arguing about why we wouldn't take a stance on the wage freeze, the mayor said "You've lost me on this one," and rolled his eyes. More awesome behavior on his part.

-His opinion on the wage freeze was that it is the only immediate resolution to our problems. We discussed in the coalition, however, that this would only be one year taken care of.

-He signed our petition without reading it.

-We got support from Jennifer, his liaison with the Boston chapter of the legislation.


-keep in touch with Jennifer

-have individual meetings with the legislators (which are more effective), but then also have a meeting with as many as possible together in the same room.

These would include

  • "How do you feel about these taxes, and would you vote to give Boston the opportunity to set its own taxes?

  • some kind of contract?

  • the legislators having leadership/mobilization (spread our ideas to their suburban legislator pals; many rural areas in the state don't have too many restaurants or people coming in, so these taxes wouldn't be a help OR a hindrance to them. Therefore, they need to be made aware of what a substantial difference this could mean for Boston.)

  • we need to go public. For example, if it seems as though they are just saying what we want to hear and don't really plan on following through, we say "Great! We are so excited to tell our 10,000+ contacts that you support us fully!" (Hyde Square Task Force and Sociedad Latina alone probably make up 10,000)

Strategy/Next Steps

-The coalition was invited to have another meeting with the mayor in 4 weeks. (Is anyone opposed to this idea? I think it would become more of a 'keeping him updated' sort of thing, rather than a proposal, considering how the last meeting went)


  • Jennifer from the mayor's office wrote us and mentioned there is a hearing on the meals tax on April 7th. We have determined it won't be at least until a week later that they vote, but it's likely it will be MUCH later than even that. As a result, we decided we are going to hold off on planning the rally until the coalition agrees on the main message aim of the rally. We will NOT hold off on planning with the coalition, but it seems SAFE will have a bit more time than we thought to work on the details.

Anyway, that's it for now. I will let people know if there are any email updates sent out this week!


Saturday, March 28, 2009

Town Hall Meeting with Governor Patrick

Hey everybody, see you tomorrow!

I was invited by the Boston Student Advisory Council, one of our allies in the coalition, to go to this town hall meeting broadcast on TV at the Kennedy Library on Thursday. Since the State is so important in the process now, we had a lot of questions to ask him. The main ones were:

-You distributed $168 million from the stimulus package to suburban schools instead of needy areas like Boston. Why, and will you commit to helping Boston close its education deficit?

-We have a platform asking for local options taxes for Boston to close the education budget deficit. Do you support them, and if so, what will you do to help get them passed?

-What do you think about Boston gaining home rule? (the ability to make its own taxes, like most other major cities do)

We were only able to ask the first one during the discussion... Patrick said "people act like the government just wrote me a big check and I can spend it how I want, but there are a lot of restrictions." When asked about the formula used to distribute the money, he admitted it was flawed, but said there was other money coming to Boston through Title I. A retired superintendent of a small school district in Southern Mass was sitting near us, and said Title I can't be used to close deficits or hire teachers, though.

After the meeting, we pushed our way up to Patrick and asked him about Title I. He said it COULD be used to close the deficit, and Boston could get "up to 60 million." We're not sure if this is true, but it's probably not; the former superintendent we talked to was actually in the education system, and has no political points to gain by pushing one agenda. We need to do research on this!

We also asked Patrick about local option taxes, and he said he supported them, but glossed over what he'd do to support them. We got hustled off before we could ask about home rule, and his staff wouldn't let him sign our petition right then.

So, it was mixed... BUT we got the contact info of several people in the education department and the governor's staff, so we can set up a meeting with him personally to find out what we don't already know. We'll discuss more tomorrow!

Meeting with the Mayor

Hey everyone,

Last Friday, Emily and I, along with other members of the coalition, met with the mayor (and the superintendent, his education advisor, a couple of other people) to ask him to commit a specific percentage of revenue from new local options taxes to Boston Public Schools.  He refused to do so, saying he won't commit to something until he knows how much money will be coming into the city from the local options taxes.  On a more positive note, Abi, from BSAC, asked him if he would consider allowing a student to serve as a full, voting member on the School Committee and he said he would absolutely be in favor of it and that he'll have his lawyers look into the legality of having a student vote.  (Most School Committee members serve 4-year terms, but that might not work for a student; they also weren't sure if a student would be legally allowed to vote, etc.  We should hold him to that.)

In addition, we talked to Jennifer, his liaison to the state government, and she said she would help us set up meetings with the Boston delegation of the Legislature, which is awesome.  If I missed anything, Emily, please add on.  

Oh, P.S., he signed the petition, so now we've got both him and the superintendent on our petition.