Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Thanksgiving Message from Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr and the Senate GOP Caucus

"Perhaps no custom reveals our character as a Nation so clearly as our celebration of Thanksgiving Day." – President Ronald Reagan

On this Thanksgiving Day, it is my hope that we all take a few minutes to appreciate the many blessings in our lives, and let us not forget the many Americans who are currently serving overseas away from their family and friends to protect this great nation.  May you all have a safe, healthy, and happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Remembering a Great Man

“My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” - John F. Kennedy

On this day 50 years ago, President John F. Kennedy was tragically assassinated during a parade through Dallas, Texas.  Even though his time in office was short, the Massachusetts-born president advanced civil rights in America, committed the country to the Apollo program, and created the humanitarian organization, the Peace Corp.  President Kennedy endeared himself to the world due to his dedication of serving others.  Upon his death, then-United Nations Ambassador Adlai Stevenson said “All of us will bear the grief of his death until the day of ours.”

Although on this day in 1963 will forever live in infamy, President John F. Kennedy’s legacy will forever live on.  Posted below is President Kennedy’s famous “City Upon a Hill” Speech, which was delivered to the Massachusetts General Court as his last formal address before his inauguration as president.

"City Upon a Hill" Speech (January 9, 1961)

John Fitzgerald Kennedy

I have welcomed this opportunity to address this historic body, and, through you, the people of Massachusetts to whom I am so deeply indebted for a lifetime of friendship and trust.

 For fourteen years I have placed my confidence in the citizens of Massachusetts—and they have generously responded by placing their confidence in me.

 Now, on the Friday after next, I am to assume new and broader responsibilities. But I am not here to bid farewell to Massachusetts.

 For forty-three years—whether I was in London, Washington, the South Pacific, or elsewhere—this has been my home; and, God willing, wherever I serve this shall remain my home.

 It was here my grandparents were born—it is here I hope my grandchildren will be born.

 I speak neither from false provincial pride nor artful political flattery. For no man about to enter high office in this country can ever be unmindful of the contribution this state has made to our national greatness.

 Its leaders have shaped our destiny long before the great republic was born. Its principles have guided our footsteps in times of crisis as well as in times of calm. Its democratic institutions—including this historic body—have served as beacon lights for other nations as well as our sister states.

 For what Pericles said to the Athenians has long been true of this commonwealth: "We do not imitate—for we are a model to others."

 And so it is that I carry with me from this state to that high and lonely office to which I now succeed more than fond memories of firm friendships. The enduring qualities of Massachusetts—the common threads woven by the Pilgrim and the Puritan, the fisherman and the farmer, the Yankee and the immigrant—will not be and could not be forgotten in this nation's executive mansion.

 They are an indelible part of my life, my convictions, my view of the past, and my hopes for the future.

 Allow me to illustrate: During the last sixty days, I have been at the task of constructing an administration. It has been a long and deliberate process. Some have counseled greater speed. Others have counseled more expedient tests.

 But I have been guided by the standard John Winthrop set before his shipmates on the flagship Arbella three hundred and thirty-one years ago, as they, too, faced the task of building a new government on a perilous frontier.

 "We must always consider," he said, "that we shall be as a city upon a hill—the eyes of all people are upon us."

 Today the eyes of all people are truly upon us—and our governments, in every branch, at every level, national, state and local, must be as a city upon a hill—constructed and inhabited by men aware of their great trust and their great responsibilities.

 For we are setting out upon a voyage in 1961 no less hazardous than that undertaken by the Arabella in 1630. We are committing ourselves to tasks of statecraft no less awesome than that of governing the Massachusetts Bay Colony, beset as it was then by terror without and disorder within.

 History will not judge our endeavors—and a government cannot be selected—merely on the basis of color or creed or even party affiliation. Neither will competence and loyalty and stature, while essential to the utmost, suffice in times such as these.

 For of those to whom much is given, much is required. And when at some future date the high court of history sits in judgment on each one of us—recording whether in our brief span of service we fulfilled our responsibilities to the state—our success or failure, in whatever office we may hold, will be measured by the answers to four questions:

 First, were we truly men of courage—with the courage to stand up to one's enemies—and the courage to stand up, when necessary, to one's associates—the courage to resist public pressure, as well as private greed?

 Secondly, were we truly men of judgment—with perceptive judgment of the future as well as the past—of our own mistakes as well as the mistakes of others—with enough wisdom to know that we did not know, and enough candor to admit it?

 Third, were we truly men of integrity—men who never ran out on either the principles in which they believed or the people who believed in them—men who believed in us—men whom neither financial gain nor political ambition could ever divert from the fulfillment of our sacred trust?

 Finally, were we truly men of dedication—with an honor mortgaged to no single individual or group, and compromised by no private obligation or aim, but devoted solely to serving the public good and the national interest.

 Courage—judgment—integrity—dedicationthese are the historic qualities of the Bay Colony and the Bay State—the qualities which this state has consistently sent to this chamber on Beacon Hill here in Boston and to Capitol Hill back in Washington.

 And these are the qualities which, with God's help, this son of Massachusetts hopes will characterize our government's conduct in the four stormy years that lie ahead.

 Humbly I ask His help in that undertaking—but aware that on earth His will is worked by men. I ask for your help and your prayers, as I embark on this new and solemn journey. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Senate Republicans Seek Fair Wages, Economic Competitiveness in Minimum Wage Debate

In the midst of an unexpected and rushed attempt to put Massachusetts on a path to having a highest-in-the-nation $11 minimum wage, Senate Republicans are working to achieve a more balanced approach with a fair minimum wage and economic competitiveness to create jobs and growth in the face of an uncertain recovery.

SenateBill 1925, “An Act to Restore the Minimum Wage”, was reported out favorably from the Senate Committee on Ways and Means last Thursday, largely bypassing the committee process since several minimum wage bills are awaiting action by the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development. In response to a very limiting deadline for amendments to the bill, the Senate GOP Caucus today offered several amendments, all of which seek to provide fair wages and a better employment climate so that more people will have a job to earn those wages and more.

“If the goal is to make Massachusetts one of the most expensive states in the country in which to try to start or grow a business, then the language of the current Senate bill is appropriate,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester). “But if we are seeking to boost income for low wage earners and foster job growth, retention and competitiveness, then there is a better and more reasonable approach.”

Avoiding the shortsightedness of the bill, the caucus filed amendments that would encourage job growth, increase the minimum wage to livable levels, and target unemployment by addressing the multifaceted issue from several different angles. Those amendments include:

• Raising the minimum wage to $9.50 by April 2016, and basing future raises on several critical factors, such as unemployment rates, rates of neighboring states, and economic competitiveness;

• Alternatively providing a onetime increase to $9.00 and leaving future increase to legislative action;

• Helping minimum wage earners with children by expanding resources through the Massachusetts Earned Income Tax Credit;

• Reforming the unemployment insurance system;

• Reducing the minimum wage for teens under the age of 18 by no more than 20% of the current rate to increase employment opportunities;

• Studying the effectiveness of regional minimum wage rates rather than a one-size-fits-all statewide rate;

• Combating high energy costs; and

• Assisting employers who offer health care coverage to minimum wage earners.

“Senate Republicans have offered an alternative measure that takes a more balanced approach in moving Massachusetts’ minimum wage amongst the highest in the nation, but yet still allows the Commonwealth’s business sector to remain competitive, while not further burdening small businesses,” said Assistant Minority Leader Robert Hedlund (R-Weymouth).

“When addressing an issue that will have such substantial impacts on the Commonwealth, it is imperative that we take a thoughtful approach and carefully consider all perspectives and proposals,” said Senator Richard Ross (R-Wrentham). “At this time the Senate needs to act responsibly, not haphazardly to effectively improve the quality of life for all of the Commonwealth’s citizens”

“Something as complex as raising the minimum wage to $11 an hour over the course of three years can have several long-lasting, unexpected consequences that could really hamper our economic recovery, particularly small businesses,” said Senator Tarr. “The legislature should have a conversation to achieve two goals; 1) providing livable wages, and 2) ways to reduce the cost of doing business in Massachusetts. The Senate Republican Caucus believes we can have that conversation and achieve those goals through the amendments that were filed today.”