To the editor:
As colleagues of Rep. Ted Speliotis, we wanted to take the opportunity to respond to the question recently raised regarding the state budget process.
While it is correct that we have created formulas to distribute local aid fairly amongst all 351 cities and towns in the commonwealth, we are the ones who decide exactly how much is allocated and distributed. We review thousands of line items — many, many extremely worthy causes with real people behind each of them — and pick priorities. That’s the essence of the budget process.
Even in these most difficult economic times, the House, in a bipartisan manner, has remained committed to supporting local aid, education funding and unrestricted lottery proceeds. We in the House on both sides of the aisle are extremely proud of record-level funding for our schools in fiscal year 2013. Speliotis has been a champion for this cause and rightly takes credit for this in his campaign.
For the past three years, we’ve passed balance budgets on time without raising taxes or fees. Our combined bond rating is its highest in state history, and we are one of only a handful of states with a rainy day account over $1 billion.
Furthermore, we stood shoulder to shoulder with Ted and fought for increased funding in the Massachusetts Math & Science Initiative. This $2.2 million investment in MMSI is raising the bar for students in Danvers, Peabody and Salem and many other communities across the state, closing the achievement gap as students reach higher and thrive in Advanced Placement courses.
Most remarkably, in this down economy, we watched Ted lead the charge to create an entirely new line item — $11.3 million — for transportation for homeless students, a critical issue in his district.
It has been our pleasure to work with Rep. Speliotis. Without question, Ted is one of the hardest-working members of the House with impeccable integrity. As chairman of the Committee on Licensure and Professional Oversight, he has brought transparency and predictability to the arcane process of liquor licenses.