As the Coronavirus has an enormous impact on our community and daily lives, legislators must support those who are most vulnerable. For this reason, I support legislation to guarantee housing stability during the COVID-19 emergency and recovery. Since COVID-19 has impacted the Commonwealth’s economy and closed businesses, it is necessary to protect families from losing their homes. I believe that providing small business relief is essential to helping our local economies grow since many small businesses have not received sufficient aid from the federal government. And it is imperative in these times of crisis that necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) is made available.
As the country gears up to end the lockdown and works towards getting more people back to work, my primary concern as a lawmaker is to ensure the transition process is safe and smart. To further combat the pandemic and the effects it has had on our economy, I have introduced a 21st Century Mass Works Progress Administration Bill, inspired by President Roosevelt’s Great Depression-era Works Progress Administration. This bill would stimulate the economy through the creation of jobs including but not limited to COVID-19 response, infrastructure projects, and environmental conservation. To recover from the effects of COVID-19 on our economy, I believe it is imperative to invest in local businesses and people to help rebuild communities.
Everyone needs access to healthcare, and I believe that healthcare is a human right. I support Medicare for All, through a single-payer system. We must work to lower prescription drug prices and a single payer system would facilitate this, as well as reduce the cost of healthcare in general, address racial and ethnic health disparities. A Medicare For All system would be much more successful in addressing social epidemics in our communities, like the opioid crisis and mental health challenges.
I am also proud of having passed An Act Promoting a Resilient Health Care System that Puts Patients First last session, which ensures that insurance covers telehealth and removes unnecessary practice restrictions for nurse practitioners and other medical professionals.
Immigration Rights, Social and Racial Justice
As a Brazilian immigrant, this issue is close to my heart. In my youth, I advocated for immigrant rights with Student Immigration Movement (SIM) at the US Senate in Washington DC. I have advocated for the Work and Family Mobility Act, to allow undocumented immigrants to receive a driver’s license, and will continue to work hard to get this legislation passed, because I know so many people it would benefit. I am also a strong supporter of the Safe Communities Act, to ensure that Massachusetts law enforcement, court personnel, and taxpayer dollars are not being used to separate families.
I support the Commonwealth implementing net zero emissions targets and reaching a goal of 100% Renewable Energy by 2045 to combat climate change. With the IPCC report stating that the world only has 10 years to reverse the permanent impact of global warming, Massachusetts needs to be a bold leader in combating climate change. Net Zero and 100% Renewable Energy goals will not just end the state’s reliance on fossil fuels, but also also embrace environmental justice, by ensuring that dirty power plants, incinerators, and gas compressor stations are not continued to be sited in poor communities of color. Finally, such bold goals have the potential to create tens of thousands of jobs that are accessible to people of all education levels.
Our state is in a transportation crisis. I believe that the Legislature needs to pass a progressive tax package in order to properly invest in public transportation, including the commuter rail system, buses, subways, Regional Transit Authorities (RTAs), intercommunity shuttles. This will also allow us to fix our roads and bridges, and expand rail trails, multimodal transportation facilities, and bike paths and lanes. We need to make it more feasible for people to live in the 37th Middlesex and commute to Cambridge or Boston in a much more reasonable amount of time, while working towards addressing the climate crisis.
Transparency In Our Government
The Legislature is desperately in need of more transparency. Whether it’s the lack of knowledge the public has about how their legislators vote, the lack of time that State Representatives receive before voting on bills, or limited access to testimony on bills, committee deliberations on legislation, or underwhelming video or audio coverage of debate on Beacon Hill, more transparency in government is critical to the public knowing what the Legislature is working on, and therefore having a greater ability to influence their elected officials.
I have signed the Act On Mass Pledge on transparency, as well as all 3 proposed Act On Mass rules changes to make the current session more transparent and our legislators more accountable. For example, I stand for roll calls when a member asks for a recorded vote on any bill or amendment which I have co-sponsored or which deals with substantively the same issue as a bill I have co-sponsored. I will also fight to make all my committee votes publicly available, including electronic polls and study orders.
I fully support a person’s reproductive rights, believe that abortion is healthcare, and that the Legislature must guarantee a person’s right to an abortion. We must strive towards a future where there is support for the right of each person to manage their own sexual and reproductive health. I was proud to vote yes on the ROE Act every single time it came up for a vote, and that we got this essential legislation passed.
My support for abortion and reproductive rights is a key reason why I am such a strong supporter of making healthcare a right, so that every Massachusetts resident would have access to healthcare, including reproductive healthcare.
Free Universal Pre-K
One of the first bills I am filing as a State Representative is a bill to establish Universal Pre-K in Massachusetts with a minimum number of hours available to every single child whose family wants it. As a father of young children, I understand how important it is to invest early on in education. If we are serious about closing the education gap, we must provide early childhood care regardless of income. Parents should not have to make the difficult choice of sending their children to an expensive pre-k program or staying at home with them, missing out on opportunities for work. Massachusetts is a policy leader on the national stage, early childhood education should be no exception.
I support the Millionaire’s Tax and ensuring corporations are paying their fair share. In addition to the Millionaire’s Tax, I support three main revenue options. The first is for Massachusetts to Re-Couple to Federal GILTI (Global Intangible Low-Taxed Income). This would end a costly corporate tax loophole and could raise $200-400 million annually. The second is to end the Step-Up-In-Basis for Capital Gains. This tax break on inherited wealth mainly benefits the most affluent households. By ending it we could raise hundreds of millions of dollars – there was estimated $841.9 million in foregone revenue for the FY 2019 because of this. And the third is to Raise the Tax Rate on Capital Gains, Dividends, and/or Interest. Again, these are generally concentrated in wealthy households and each percentage raise in the tax could bring in as much as $300 million.
We must remove discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex characteristics. We live in dark times where hate crimes are happening in our district and on our school grounds. I am fighting for equality for all at the State House to protect the marginalized and the vulnerable. Massachusetts has strong LGBTQ rights, but we must do more. I believe we need to invest more in the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD), so that more discrimination cases can be reviewed, more programing and curricula in our schools to reduce the rise in homophobic, racist, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic incidents. In addition, given the disturbing allegations of homophobia in our state prisons, I believe there needs to be more training efforts with the Department of Correction, to reduce attacks on LGBTQ prisoners.
As someone who has never owned a home, and paid rent during my 20 years in America, this issue is personal to me. The housing market in Boston is one of the most expensive in the country and I will support legislation for more affordable housing in our district. This includes supporting a luxury housing tax, increasing the deeds excise tax to fund Affordable Housing Trusts in every community, and pass comprehensive housing production and zoning reform legislation, to ensure that every community is building affordable housing. Finally, I will be a strong advocate for increasing state public housing, and state housing vouchers, including MRVP, AHVP, and DMH housing programs.
Massachusetts should be a leader in making voting accessible to all voters. Voting is of course critical to a vibrant democracy. I support Same Day Voter Registration and lowering the voting age to 16 or 17 in municipal elections. We need to get big money out of politics, which is why I support legislation to restore publicly-financed elections for Massachusetts elections and the We The People Act. I also common sense electoral reforms including Ranked Choice Voting in our elections, voting by mail, and increasing investments in our election systems, to prevent fraud or the hacking of election machines in every Massachusetts community.
Protecting The Environment
We need to improve state protections of our environment. I support protecting open space and expanding our conservation lands, which also protects our air, and combats climate change. I support the Public Lands Preservation Act (PLPA), increasing state funding of the Community Preservation Act (CPA), and increasing the budget of the DEP, to allow our state government to enforce our environmental laws. Finally, I support a Nature-Based Solutions approach to combating climate change, so that communities are actually rewarded for maintaining their forests, reducing tree cutting, and adding more vegetation to take in more carbon.