State of the City Address:
Boston’s Mayor Marty Walsh delivered his 2016 State of the City address at Symphony Hall last Wednesday. He expressed that, although the year brought many challenges, the City of Boston is “as strong as it has ever been.” As well, he highlighted the many accomplishments of 2015:
- Decrease in violent crime by 3% and property crime by 10%. All major crime decreased by 9%.
- Construction of the Dearborn STEM Academy in Roxbury, Boston’s first high school built specifically for science and technology
- Decrease in unemployment by 14%
- New homeless facility
- Increased the standards for firefighter safety
- Continued Boston’s leading efforts for energy efficiency
- Increased community engagement efforts
- Improved international attention for City Score – data-driven scoring system for city government.
- In light of the national tension, Mayor Walsh has focused on the engagement between Boston police officers, street workers, and young people in the communities. He is working with the community to help shape the City’s anti-violence strategy.
The Mayor went on to express his sincere excitement for the coming year in welcoming General Electric to Boston, the appointment of Superintendent Tommy Chang, the newly hired 24 principals, the extended school day for students K-8, the exciting 10-year school building plan with community insight, his continued increase in school funding, the advancements of the Apprenticeship program, and the organized task force to study a $15 minimum wage for Boston workers.
Mayor Walsh felt strongly in saying that “No matter what progress we made the day before, or the year before, our work isn’t done. Not even close.” He went on to say “But I have faith. I have faith that in Boston we have the talent, and we have the heart, to keep doing that work until we are a city where every family can make a home, every kid gets a strong start in school, and every adult has a fair chance to build a career.” His words of encouragement left me with a genuine sense of just how determined he is to see the improvement of Boston and the desire to see with a leveled ‘playing field’ for all those who wish to succeed. Mayor Walsh expressed his feeling of accomplishment in “breaking new ground and offering new hope.”
State of the Commonwealth Address:
In the State of the Commonwealth address last Thursday evening, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker conveyed the need to work together on legislation that will positively impact issues such as transportation, education and climate change. With an audience of over 800 people, The Governor pronounced his vision of working cohesively as a state by asking the administration to “act quickly and to move on critical legislation for the state and the region.”
Governor Baker addressed solution oriented concerns on matters of Public Transportation in regards to last year’s historic winter, efficient and effective health care, the Department of Children and Families, Registry of Motor Vehicles, and the need to hold school systems accountable for the progression and educational advancement of their students.
Governor Baker began his commonwealth address by acknowledging the short comings of last winter and the public transit system’s failures, in regards to the T. He recognized that over a million people use this method of transportation each day and need it to work effectively. He is working to “double the capital investment in the system’s core infrastructure to $1 billion every year”.
Governor Baker addressed the solid concern of health care. The procurement of decent health insurance has been a challenge for hundreds of thousands of Massachusetts’s citizens. As a result, many citizens wound up with Mass Health. This jeopardized millions of dollars of federal reimbursements because the state had no ability of determining whether or not recipients were eligible. Fixing the Connector was one of the Governor’s top priorities, and today open enrollment is mostly complete.
In regards to the Registry of Motor Vehicles, the Governor understood the frustration expressed by his constituents, which urged him to strategize new ways to allow customers to “get in-and-out in 30 minutes or less.”
In conjunction with the Legislature, the Governor’s office has managed to close over $1 billion in budget deficits without raising fees or taxes by reducing spending and more responsible fiscal practices. However, he has also lead the effort in investing a great deal in the climate change and energy resilience projects; MassWorks Infrastructure Program developments; and increased funding for higher education.
The Governor expressed that a state that places such a high value on education should not hold arbitrary limits on high-quality schools. The parents, who feel the pain of missed opportunity for their children, should not be overlooked. He went on to say that the “Students attending the Brooke Charter Schools in Roslindale, Mattapan and East Boston had higher scores on the English and Math PARRC Exams than those in Carlisle, Belmont, Sudbury, Sharon, Concord, Wayland, Weston and Newton.” Governor Baker urged the importance of lifting the cap on public charter schools. He ended on a sound note, conveying the fact that “Too often in government, we confuse how much money we spend on something, or how much we talk about it, with whether or not we’re achieving any positive results.”
In both addresses, although Governor Baker was more thorough in his approach and delivery, both the Governor and the Mayor did a phenomenal job in letting the citizens of Boston and residents of Massachusetts know how important their job to improve the lives of children and families is to them. I am delighted to see a purple state working cohesively to accomplish the good of the people.
Jada Cash-Wilson is a Project Coordinator/Graduate Intern in the Department of Government & External Affairs and Community Impact and holds a BA in Political Philosophy. Before connecting with Wheelock, she worked as a Research Policy/Grant Analyst and liaison between the Mayor and City Council for a major city in the mid-west, and as a Legislative Aide for former U.S Senator Carl Levin. Jada aspires to someday make a positive difference in the world.