2 Weeks Until the Special Election Primary

On April 13th, the voters of the Norfolk, Bristol, and Middlesex district will elect their next Democratic candidate for State Senate. As an experienced legislator who has devoted my life to serving the people of Norfolk County in the MA House of Representatives, I have the necessary qualifications to hit the ground running and bring tangible results back to my constituents.

For 21 years I have been casting progressive votes in the State House. I led the charge for Marriage Equality, helped establish our current Health Care system, and fought tirelessly to bring home millions of dollars for our school systems, ensuring that our children get the quality education they deserve.

The assumption that my position as a leader in the State House means that I was in some way involved in the behavior of past Speakers is completely unfounded. I have always valued my independence and fought for the issues that I believe in. I went toe-to-toe with Tommy Finneran in the fight for marriage equality because advocating on behalf of my constituents and staying true to my beliefs has always been my #1 priority.

As a former teacher, member of the Needham School Committee, and with 9 grandchildren in the Needham Public Schools, improving the quality of education for the children of Massachusetts will always be a personal issue to me. I chaired the task force charged with revamping our state’s School Building Assistance law, which allowed for faster payments to cities and towns, hundreds of millions of dollars for new schools and construction jobs in the Norfolk, Middlesex & Bristol Senate district and also increased our savings-in-debt service costs which enhanced our state’s bond rating. I also chaired the special committee that reformed our Special Education Laws, ensuring stronger protections of our families and reducing costs by aligning MA with Federal standards.

The most pressing issue facing our legislature today is putting the people of our Commonwealth back to work. In the past I have been an opponent of casino gambling in MA. Due to the recent downturn in our economy I think we have reached a point that requires us to take another look at this issue. Currently in the Norfolk, Bristol and Middlesex district, unemployment rates amongst the building trades are greater than 50%. I would be willing to consider passing a casino bill if it adequately protects local aid, provides resources for problem gamblers, and guarantees that jobs go to MA residents.

I am uniquely qualified to tackle the issues sure to arise from national Health Care reform because I was very involved in passing Massachusetts’ current legislation. I understand how to promote legislation and work towards compromise that benefits everyone involved.

I am proud to be endorsed in this campaign by many progressive organizations including Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus, Massachusetts Nurses Association, Massachusetts Teachers Association, American Federation of Teachers, Local 1199 SEIU, and Local 2222 IBEW.

I ask for your support so that I may continue my work in education, economic development and providing a social safety net. I encourage you to post your questions here.

Lida Harkins

Candidate for State Senate

Norfolk, Bristol and Middlesex

P.S. Great news, just heard that I was also endorsed by Mass NOW!

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8 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Rep Harkins

    How do you feel about reforming chapter 70? Also, I'd appreciate your thoughts on what looks like a broken promise for fy 11 relative to bringing ALL communities to 17.5% of foundation budget as promised in fy 07.  

    • Good Question

      I think what we should really do is tax differently for education. We shouldn't be reliant on property taxes to fund education. More dollars should come from the state and that's the basic problem, not chapter 70. We should be looking for a different tax mechanism. Unfortunately that is not very realistic at the moment so there have been many attempts to fix the chapter 70 formula to make sure it brings more money to suburban communities. However, with every formula change there are communities that win and communities that lose, making these attempts difficult to pass. We finally succeeded in establishing an agreement in the budget to embrace a 5-year plan that would bring the floor up to 17.5% for all communities that were deemed to have less financial need.

      It was supposed to be a 5-year plan ending in 2011, but because of fiscal crisis it was frozen last year and again this year. What's important is that we not lose the commitment to getting there even though its been delayed by lack of available dollars. Once the state has generated more money we can continue where we left off two years ago.

      • Disappointing Response

        The phase in has hurt my community badly.  

      • We TRIED a different funding mechanism

        . It was called the State Lottery.  It would end all fiscal problems for education, remember?  Of course, the lottery money is distrubuted according to the Ch. 70 formula (including towns that don't even HAVE any lottery agents) so the inequity is just enhanced by this 'different mechanism'.

        And the Legislature has been in default on examining the Ch. 70 formula for TEN YEARS.  An examination of the impact of the formula in 2000 was called for in the 1993 act, not a 'recalibratiuon' of the broken 35 step formula.

        What is lacking is an honest response to the unfair formula.  If there WERE more tax dollars, why should we think it wouldn't just continue to benefit the few chosen communities - who sometimes got more than 100% of their ed budget from the state?  A cap of 80%, which meant each community would have to be willing to pay TWENTY PERCENT of their school budget out of their own coffers instead of relying on state funding, was rejected as a solution.  And more cash would fix this?

        • Many Cape Communities are getting screwed

          The program is a joke and the Governor and Legislature know it. I look forward to November more everyday.  

  2. Massachusetts needs a new direction

    Whatever the legislature has been doing the last few years clearly hasn't been working. There is gridlock on Beacon Hill.

    How many years did we wait for Melanie's Law and Jessica's law? How long will we wait for CORI reform, alimony reform and shared parenting? When will towns get the right to renegotiate health insurance with state workers? Why was the resolution on level funding local aid not debated and voted on by the entire legislature? Why is the budget decided by just Therese Murray, Robert DeLeo and Steven Panagiotakos? Why aren't other legislators part of that process?

    The answer is simple, each of these measures is opposed by one or another lobby or PAC who gives money to our legislators.

    How much of this money has Harkins received? Over $100,000 dollars in the last 6 years alone. So its no wonder she hasn't been in the forefront of solving these problems, even though she was majority whip for years.

    Voters are looking for a new direction - and they are going to get it. The question in this district is whether that new direction is going to come in the form of a progressive like Smulowitz or a Republican like Ross.

    If Harkins wins the primary, Ross takes the general election for sure.

    • Harkins is in the best position to beat Ross

      If you were Ross, whom would you rather face in the general election?

      The guy who's lived in the district for a little over 2 years and whose only experience in office is one year as a town meeting member, or an experienced legislator who has lived in the district most of her life, raised her family there, has a solid record of accomplishments, and knows what her constituents value?

      If I were Ross I'd much rather run against the neophyte. No question.

  3. If I were Ross I think I'd rather face...

    If I were Ross I think I'd rather face Harkins, the only candidate who has been taking campaign contributions from tobacco lobbyists and spending that lobbyist money on restaurants:


    Smulowitz and Ross campaign contributions are squeaky clean. Ross has actually been very careful about who he takes money from, and how he spends it for many many years. I think if he were facing Harkins he would be able to make a very stark contrast between himself and Harkins.

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Thu 18 Dec 8:29 PM