I came to public office in 2006, having spent a lifetime forming several core values. My belief system comes not from a singular ideological philosophy or from any party platform, but from cumulative life experiences gained as a construction laborer, hazardous waste technician, student, teacher, father, business executive and owner, man of faith, and proud American.
Since joining the legislature, I have built a record in support of good government, social justice, economic development, and laws that support the greater good of citizens who live in my district as well as citizens who live throughout this great Commonwealth.
Summarized below is a brief overview of my position on key issues facing us today. I would be happy to meet with you to discuss these topics further or to get your input on any issues before the legislature.
I support tax policies that are fair, generate the revenue needed to pay for those services provided to our citizens, and promote economic development. I am sensitive to the impact taxes have on small businesses in the state. I have advocated for policies that require 50% of capital gains taxes be deposited directly into the state's rainy day fund.
I am not in favor of tax increases when government reform, reorganization, and implementation of management best practices can provide the capital resources needed to fund operations or deliver services. Tax policies should not be changed in response to short term government needs. Policies should be established long term, which allow companies the time to plan programs that can flourish and strategies that will provide maximum opportunities.
I have built businesses and created good jobs for more than 25 years. I have learned that economic expansion cannot occur without economic justice for all. As a legislator, I have supported investments in target industries capable of creating new businesses and additional jobs. In addition to my ongoing support of the tourism industry, I have supported emerging industries like green energy, life sciences, and biotechnology.
As someone who served as a senior executive in a publicly held company as well as a business owner, I understand the many challenges specific to small businesses. Those insights and experiences provide me with a unique perspective in deliberations on small business, tax policy, workers compensation, unemployment, labor laws, insurance, workforce training, and education. Small businesses are the fuel of our economic engine. Sustainable economic development requires prudent regulatory involvement supported by consistent and fair tax policies.
I am a passionate advocate for the vital needs of all children and for the preservation of the family unit. From advocating for early education and services for those with developmental disabilities, to advancing legislation to ban bullying in schools, I have led the debate on children and family issues. Our children are our greatest assets and they require our ongoing care and investment. If we are to remain true to the "common good" of the Commonwealth, we must continue to invest in children and families.
As a former School Committee member, I take enormous pride in the fact that students in the Commonwealth scored first in the nation in Math and English. I view spending on public school education not as a cost, but as an investment that will produce quantifiable returns. The children of the Commonwealth are our most precious assets and it is our moral duty to provide them with the best education we can afford. The quality of public school education today will directly influence the health of the economy tomorrow.
The experience gained while earning a degree from North Adams State College shaped my life and gave me tremendous respect for public higher education. Later, while earning a Masters Degree at Northeastern University, I came to fully understand the value of the education I received at North Adams. I will continue to push for investment in these fine public institutions.
During the past six years, I have served on the Joint Committee on Higher Education, including a term as Vice Chair. I have fought hard for additional investments in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) in support of our expanding industries in Massachusetts. Recognizing that affordability is a key element of the public higher education model, I support capping tuition and fees at the inflation rate and increasing financial aid to students. I supported the pursuit of University status for Bridgewater State College and the expansion of satellite campuses throughout the Commonwealth to make education accessible to all.
With regard to granting in-state tuition rates to undocumented immigrants, I believe that because public higher education is a privilege subsidized by taxpayers, only those who have paid into the system should be given the benefit of in-state rates.
Having come from a family of highly decorated Army officers who have proudly served their country in combat, I was proud to honor their service and that of all veterans by serving on the Joint Committee on Veteran Affairs during my last term. As a member on this Committee, I was a passionate advocate for our men and women in uniform. By working to provide tax incentives, educational opportunities, job training, career planning, and counseling for veterans and their families, I acknowledge a debt that can never be fully repaid and I continue to advocate for these much-deserved services today.
I successfully secured funding in the state budget for multiple years for both the Nathan Hale Veteran Outreach Centers and Heidrea for Heroes. The Nathan Hale Foundation, based in Plymouth and Middleboro, provides transportation, counseling, and farming opportunities for veterans; Heidrea for Heroes provides adaptive home renovations, mobility equipment, home repairs, workforce readiness programs, and custom veteran/family support. Both of these non-profits serve veterans from the six towns I represent, and beyond.
Finally, I was proud to work with the Plymouth Legislative Delegation and Congressman Delahunt to bring a much-needed VA Clinic to Plymouth.
I understand and appreciate the many valuable contributions made by our seniors. From raising their families, protecting our freedom, and making investments that have ensured our standard of living; our seniors have served us well. Therefore, it is our responsibility to serve them, knowing full well that many of them are among the most vulnerable in our society.
With senior citizens now living longer than ever, I understand the importance of matching public services with the specific and growing needs of our seniors. In an effort to aid our seniors, I have supported the Prescription Advantage wrap around program, the Community Choice Plan, the Senior Pharmacy Program, funding for local Council on Aging programs and the Meals on Wheels program.
I have also had the distinct pleasure of teaching lifelong learning "Issues of the Day" classes every year of my tenure at the Duxbury COA, and in 2016, I started leading a similar program at the Kingston Senior Center. Through these classes, along with my monthly visits to the Council on Aging Centers throughout the district, I receive important feedback and guidance from senior constituents. This valuable information has assisted me in deliberation on public policy in the Commonwealth.
Providing services to those in need is a top core value that guides me as a legislator. I believe that it is our moral obligation in the Commonwealth to provide for the common good of our citizens. We must help those who are most vulnerable and at the greatest risk. One sign of a great society is one in which a government lends a helping hand to those who are truly in need. This is one of the distinguishing qualities of Massachusetts, and why the framers of our Constitution organized our government as a Commonwealth, one of the only states in the nation to be organized in that manner.
In order to fund social programs, however, we must have social justice. Social services were created to help those who cannot help themselves, not those who choose not to do so. As passionately as I believe in our obligation to take care of those less fortunate, I feel equally intolerant of those who choose to exploit the generosity and humanity of our citizens. Regulatory controls need to be strengthened in order to identify and remove those people who receive social services they don't need or to which they're not entitled. Providing services without justice is morally wrong, financially unsustainable, and undermines our potential for economic expansion. Polar positions on this issue undermine the public debate. I seek to build a consensus among those who believe in humanity, fairness and justice for all.
My grandparents were Irish immigrants who came to this country in search of work, opportunity, and a better way of life. They entered the U.S. through the front door, worked hard, raised a family, and made wonderful contributions to this nation. Our federal government has failed to pass meaningful immigration reform to address the changes our nation has experienced during the last 50 years. The absence of a national policy with supporting regulations has resulted in an unacceptable increase in illegal immigration. The presence of millions of undocumented immigrants has placed an unsustainable strain on medical facilities, law enforcement agencies, public schools, and the court system, all at the taxpayer’s expense.
Our nation's diversity is one of its greatest strengths. We should welcome immigrants· who seek a better life, are willing to work, speak the language, and obey the laws of the land. I have called on Congress to pass a functional immigration law in order to facilitate a workable immigration system. For those who immigrate to the U.S. legally, we should welcome them and assist them in their timely integration. Humanity and justice for all are core values of our nation and should be the basis for immigration reform as well.
In summary, the principal of a fair exchange of value is a very important one to me, and it influences most of my life decisions. Recently, the topic of granting undocumented high school graduates with in-state tuition rates at our higher education institutions has seen renewed attention. In my view, because public higher ed is a privilege subsidized by taxpayers, only those who have paid into the system should be allowed to benefit from in-state tuition rates.
I worked in the environmental clean-up and remediation industry for much of my career. From working as a hazardous waste technician under dangerous conditions at oil spill sites and beyond, to owning one of the most respected environmental firms in New England, I have been at the tip of the spear in the growth and evolution of the environmental industry.
I believe in environmental stewardship and in promoting regulations that protect the environment while creating new economic opportunities. I have proven that business can live in harmony with the environment and that good environmental practices produce healthy profits. In order to preserve the quality of life we enjoy in the Commonwealth, we must balance conservation, growth, and development. That responsibility and our commitment to meeting it, is fundamental to our prosperity, the preservation of our culture, and our natural resources.
I have worked for over three years alongside the Monponsett Watershed and Jones River Watershed Associations to address the persistent and growing problems at Monponsett Pond and Silver Lake caused by the City of Brockton's water use mismanagement. I reinstituted the Central Plymouth County Water District Commission (which had been dormant for years) as the legal authority to regulate management, per the original 1964 law. Since then, I have worked closely with the Commissioners to measure and mitigate Brockton's practices in an effort to improve the quality and quantity of water in these two precious natural resources. The level of cyanobacteria in West Monponsett Pond has forced closure of the pond for several summers in a row and water levels in Silver Lake are drought sensitive. Brockton needs to pursue a alternative water supply that is reliable for it's citizens and that is environmentally sustainable.
Knowing full well the pride that comes from home ownership, I support developers who promote affordable housing and responsible community development. I have pushed for advancing education in areas like home financing, investment analysis and tax planning. I serve on the Kingston Rent Control Board to ensure that those in manufactured home communities are treated fairly. I will continue to advocate for responsible 40 R projects and for stricter oversight of 40 B housing developments. Home ownership may be beyond the reach of some. However, the Commonwealth must continue to promote policies and make targeted investments in additional affordable housing units.
Massachusetts residents spend more than 1.3 billion dollars annually in out-of-state resort casinos. In addition, thousands of construction jobs and full-time service jobs are lost to border states that already have licensed resort casinos. I support expanded gaming in Massachusetts, as well as strict regulatory control over the gaming industry. In order to receive my support, final gaming legislation must include adequate resources to meet our obligations to those negatively affected by the gaming industry, mitigation money for the host and neighboring communities and strict regulatory oversight.
I never supported the proposed Mashpee Wompanoag project in Middleboro. The contract signed with the town provided no funding to educate the children of those who may come to the area seeking employment. That uncontrollable variable cost would have created an unmanageable financial risk for the town. Further, I do not believe that the Sovereign Tribe would have created the regulatory controls or provided the social support services needed to responsibly support the gaming industry.
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Office of State Representative Thomas J. Calter
12th Plymouth District
State House, Room 446
Boston, MA 02133
10 Cordage Park Circle
Plymouth, MA 02360
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