Optimism reigns in senator’s ‘state of the state’ report

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State Senator Brian Joyce was optimistic in his “state of the state” report to selectmen Tuesday night and pledged continued state spending for roads, public education, assistance for full-day kindergarten, and substance abuse prevention — a priority of the state legislature.

Joyce said the state economic forecast and tax collections are both doing so well that the state income tax could drop from 5.15 to 5.10 percent in January of 2016.

Joyce also pledged continued support for three home rule petitions passed by town meeting voters — one that seeks five additional liquor licenses, another seeking two additional package stores licenses, and a third petition that would allow the town to move its municipal elections from early spring to November.

All three bills, he said, are in the legislative process. The liquor bills are in the third reading of a House committee, and the proposed election change is also due for legislative review. Joyce said the alcohol bills must also pass the Senate, and he is pushing for an amendment that would make each of the newly issued licenses non-transferable.

Regarding the election change, Joyce acknowledged that the secretary of state’s office has concerns with term expiration dates for officeholders and the impact to early voting procedures when a state and town election occur during the same year. The state is considering allowing voters to vote earlier than the November election date, he said. Joyce believes the concerns eventually can be worked out.

Joyce believes there will be further increases for local aid, road repairs, public education, career training, and assistance for full-day kindergarten in the coming budget. Like Canton, Joyce’s hometown of Milton is also seeking free full-day kindergarten. Joyce noted that the House and Senate fully restored the kindergarten assistance program despite Governor Charlie Baker’s decision to cut the funding from $18 million to $1 million. With the full restoration of the program, he said, the Canton Public Schools will receive $55,810 toward the cost of full-day kindergarten. Canton is also due to receive $1.174 million in Chapter 90 roadway funds along with $118,127 in winter pothole funds.

Joyce also said he was able to secure the restoration of $100,000 for the Blue Hills Weather Observatory and $500,000 for the Trailside Museum. He did note the severity of the deer population in the Blue Hills Reservation (16 to 80 deer per square mile), which raises concerns over tick-borne illnesses and damage to vegetation.

Joyce said he has an excellent working relationship with state Representative Bill Galvin, with both lawmakers working hand in hand on many pieces of legislation affecting the Canton area. He also praised Town Administrator Bill Friel as one of the most diligent and most persistent town managers in his district. “And this shows up in highway money given to the town,” he said. “[Friel] is on top of this …

See this week’s Canton Citizen for more highlights from the September 8 selectmen’s meeting, including an update on the Metropolis Skating Rink and Reservoir Pond. Click here to order your subscription today.

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