ISSUES

MY PRIORITIES FOR THE DISTRICT

HEALTHCARE IS A RIGHT, NOT A PRIVILEGE


I’ve been the primary care caregiver for both of my parents, forced to decide whether or not I could afford the costs of their necessary treatments . No one should ever be faced with that decision. Massachusetts is the epicenter of healthcare delivery and biotechnology, yet many still struggle to access it.

  • Fight to keep essential healthcare services in our district and accessible to those who need it most.
  • Develop better mental health access and work to destigmatize those who struggle with mental health.
  • Expand coverage and cut healthcare and prescription costs.




TODAY'S HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATES ARE THE FUTURE DRIVERS OF OUR ECONOMY


Massachusetts needs to invest in post-secondary education and other opportunities for our high school graduates. The majority of our high school students enroll in public education institutions in-state, and the majority of those graduates will stay in-state when they join the workforce. These students are our labor force; they fuel innovation, and they drive entrepreneurship, and this is what builds our economy. However, per student State spending on education is lower today than it was in 2001.

  • Fight to ensure that the state follows-through on the promises, adopted in the Student Opportunity Act of 2019, to properly fund K-12 education, Better fund higher education, and commit to long-term funding to ensure a strong system and a healthy pipeline of leading talent in Massachusetts
  • Build support for college alternatives– trades and career readiness programs are important and viable options
  • Work to reduce student debt that diminishes the economic strength and vitality of our region




THE ECONOMY IS AT ITS BEST WHEN THE FOCUS IS ON STRENGTHENING AND GROWING OUR PIPELINE TO THE MIDDLE CLASS


Covid-19 has played havoc with our economy, and even before that there was a tremendous amount that we needed to do. I have a track record in the City of Fitchburg of pursuing policies that bring investment to our City and value to our citizens. We need forward-thinking policies and opportunities that will ensure that our citizens are ready for today’s and tomorrow’s economy while ensuring that small businesses get the resources and support that they need to thrive.

  • Build infrastructure for citizens to be competitive in the digital economy.
  • Pursue policies that provide job-readiness and workforce retraining opportunities.
  • During my tenure on the City Council:
  • Property values have risen more than $209M
  • $83 million in new commercial and industrial investment




CRUMBLING INFRASTRUCTURE IS A ROADBLOCK TO ECONOMIC GROWTH AND EQUAL OPPORTUNITY


We all know that the roads in North Central Mass. are in tough shape. There are hundreds of miles of road between Fitchburg and Lunenburg, along with sidewalks, bridges, and dams, all of which are critical infrastructure. Municipal budgets were never built to maintain and replace these! Capital improvements are essential and it’s clear that our Commonwealth is falling behind.

  • Build a bipartisan, comprehensive infrastructure improvement bill.
  • Take into account the diverse needs of our community including seniors that need access to the community, commuters traveling long distances out of the region for work, and college students moving between home and campus.
  • Be forward-thinking about future capacity demands and opportunities to take advantage of emerging technologies.




SUBSTANCE ABUSE AND ADDICTION ARE RAVAGING OUR COMMUNITIES AND EXPOSING OUR FAMILIES TO LIFETIMES OF GRIEF AND TRAUMA


Massachusetts has had approximately 10,000 deaths over the last five years due to the current opioid epidemic. Nearly one in five American households are an alcoholic home, with nearly 40% of American adults having been exposed to alcohol dependency in their families. The epidemic of addiction throughout the Commonwealth and nation will not end with any one single action or through the work of one entity. Instead, it will be a combination of multiple efforts working closely together that will end the prevalence of addiction.

  • Support first responders, public safety officers, and health care workers, so they are empowered to handle this issue.
  • Better fund our human service and social service institutions that are on the front line of prevention and outreach, working with families before they become broken homes.
  • Use organizations like the Gardner-based GAAMHA as models to innovate treatment and provide services across the Commonwealth.




THE ENVIRONMENT IS A SHARED COMMON RESOURCE THAT IS FUNDAMENTAL TO BOTH OUR PERSONAL AND ECONOMIC HEALTH


We're facing a climate emergency and the time to act with urgency is now. Our district is home to diverse ecosystems and an abundance of parks and natural environments. We want to ensure that our parks, forests, and conservation land are available for generations to come. We also know that a healthy environment provides public benefits, such as clean air and water, recreational opportunities, and economic diversification. Protecting these resources is good for everyone.

  • Protect our parks, fight climate change, and reduce carbon loss by passing HD.3500, a bill that protects state land as parks or reserves and allows them to be guided primarily by natural processes.
  • Reduce carbon emissions by passing HD.1419, a bill that removes incentives for incineration of garbage and biomass.




EVERYONE IN OUR COMMUNITY HAS THE RIGHT TO FEEL SAFE AND PROTECTED


Public safety is one of the most basic responsibilities of government. It has been an important focus at the local level during my time as a City Counselor and it will continue to be important at the State level as your representative. Our communities are safest when there are strong relationships between the community and the people who protect it.

  • Build education programs and outreach initiatives within our schools and elder residential buildings.
  • Address suicide rates and PTSD prevalence within the corrections and public safety community, address lower life expectancy rates.
  • Build upon the work, and ensure the proper implementation of H.4012 passed in 2018 that provided reforms in key areas of the statewide criminal code and prison system.




CHILDCARE IS AS ESSENTIAL TO THE ECONOMIC INFRASTRUCTURE AS OUR ROADS AND BRIDGES


Childcare is an essential component of our economy. It prevents parents from being forced to choose either the costs of daycare and preschool or the lost income from a parent taking an extended leave from work. It also helps strengthen the education system, takes the pressure off of struggling families, and addresses one factor in the gender pay gap.

  • Work towards building a program that provides childcare opportunities for pre-K aged kids.
  • Address “Childcare deserts” where there are not enough childcare slots to meet demand.
  • COVID-19 is decimating our childcare infrastructure and only 11% of current facilities across the state are projected to survive this crisis without intervention. There is a need for immediate funding and intervention. 50k childcare slots, which means 50k children and, potentially, 50k families, are threatened by this problem.




AN ADVOCATE FOR OUR SENIORS


Elders make up an important part of our community but many individuals and families struggle to afford the long term care they need. We need a strong advocate who can push for policies that will make sure they are well supported. This is especially important because government-funded community programs that provide expanded care are more efficient and cost-effective, which means we can actually reduce costs to individuals and families, while also reducing the cost to taxpayers.

  • Advocate for more community-based services instead of relying on preventing long-term care as the default action.
  • Keep more elders at home, aging in place with support systems and family.
  • Save taxpayers and families enormous costs.
  • Continue to advocate for those for whom long-term care is still the best option.




WOMEN'S RIGHTS ARE HUMAN RIGHTS


It is 2020 and we, as a nation, still have not ratified the Equal Rights Amendment. There is still a gender pay gap; there are still attacks on women’s reproductive rights, and women still face the realities of sexual and domestic violence every day.

  • Advocate for policies that will narrow the gender pay gap – which is still 83 cents per dollar In Massachusetts and nationally even worse for women of color.
  • Dismantle barriers to access to sexual and reproductive health care, support women’s right to choose when, if, how they wish to pursue parenthood.
  • During my time at Fitchburg State, I served as a Fitchburg Anti-Violence Education (FAVE) trainer to incoming students on a Department of Justice grant to reduce sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking in our community. I will continue to advocate for victims of these crimes and work to end dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking.




SOCIAL JUSTICE IS AN ISSUE WE'VE WAITED FAR TOO LONG TO TACKLE


As a straight, white, male, I will never experience the same systemic prejudices and inequalities that many in our community confront each day. I will never be able to “walk a mile” in your shoes” to understand what it is like. But I can pledge to be a representative who will be accessible to YOU and to listen to YOU. You will have my promise that your words, experiences, and challenges will be ever present in my thoughts and dialogue and I will work each day as a fearless and unapologetic advocate to translate your voice into concrete and actionable steps on Beacon Hill.

  • Recently introduced legislation to promote racial equity and economic empowerment in Fitchburg.
  • Authored and sponsored resolutions against hate speech, bigotry and racism
  • Vocal advocate for our immigrant communities and supports the Work and Family Mobility Act
  • Fearless advocate for LGBTQ+ issues, including the following bills:
    • Ban Abusive Practice Known As Conversion Therapy,
    • Banning Discrimination Of LGBTQ+ In Educational Institutions
    • Inclusion Of LGBTQ+ Community In The Census
    • Honoring Our LGBTQ+ Veterans





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© 2020 Mike Kushmerek