Senate President Karen Spilka has appointed me to serve in a new role: President Pro Tempore of the senate. My role is to help her move the senate’s agenda forward.

I fully endorse the agenda that she has defined for the senate. Her agenda speaks directly to the concerns that have motivated me to serve in public office.

I started my involvement in local politics as a young parent concerned about education funding and that remains a central concern for me. In her inaugural address, she affirmed that “Adequately funding our education system will be one of the top priorities of the Senate this session.”

She also appreciates the close relationship between housing, transportation and environmental concerns. Everyone is frustrated with traffic congestion. The problems created by inadequate housing production are well understood. What is emerging now is the possibility that a big upgrade in our regional rail system could help alleviate congestion and housing supply needs while reducing carbon emissions.

If we could offer frequent all-day service between the inner core and gateway cities like Brockton, Worcester and Lowell, then people could live more affordably in or around those communities and commute to jobs in the core. With adequate connectivity, the gateway cities could themselves become employment centers. That potential would be greatest if we had the North-South rail link connecting communities across the region.

Cut through traffic in inner core communities could be further reduced if suburban commuters could leave their cars at stations on 128 and switch to frequent rail to get downtown. Congestion in the inner core would no longer constrain job and housing growth and the quality of life in the inner core communities that I represent could be improved.

Getting people out of cars reduces emissions, especially if the rail is electrified and supplied with power from green sources. And, there may be a connection between long-term climate resiliency of the region and an emphasis on development in the gateway cities instead of concentrating all development in Boston.

All of that is somewhat theoretical, but MassDOT is engaging in a careful study of the rail options to determine what is physically possible. Then we will need to address the financial challenge.

The Senate President is starting with an open mind and a clear set of principles — regional equity, access and affordability, sustainability, connectivity, innovation and responsiveness. She has said that “now is the time to be bold” while recognizing that “we still need to find ways to reach political consensus on our bold ideas.” That is a challenge I’m eager to be helpful with.

The Senate President was a close partner to me in the Criminal Justice Reform package that we moved forward last year. She was Ways and Means Chair and her support and guidance was critical to the success of the package. She has a career-long commitment to justice issues and will continue to support progress on that front.

She has been a champion for the vulnerable and has made a personal commitment as Senate President to achieving “true mental health parity” and improving preventative mental health care.

She has a strong track-record on economic development issues and fiscal responsibility. She has chosen Senator Rodrigues from Fall River as her Ways and Means Chair. He brings a business perspective and I believe will run a very solid budget process.

An agenda of this breadth requires a strong leadership team and I’m very pleased that she has asked me to be part of her team. I’m looking forward to all of the important work that lies ahead.

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Published by Will Brownsberger

Will Brownsberger is State Senator from the Second Suffolk and Middlesex District.

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71 Comments

  1. I love every word, especially the idea of regional rail! Boston Landing has been a boon that neighborhood. It has spurred tons of new development (and housing). Despite that, my friends who live nearby report that their rent has not substantially increased. I also look forward to seeing what you do with mental health care.

  2. The North-South rail link was supposed to be part of the big dig, remember. Most people thought it was a necessity, but it went the way of many good ideas (and lots of dollars) – lost.
    Hope you have better success. Really appreciate your efforts and plain language in discussing issues with your constituents. Wish you all the best.

  3. Congratulations Will. I hope you enjoy your new position in the Senate. I wish all the best.

  4. In most of the gateway cities the terminal area is begging for new higher density residential and commercial development. There is a huge potential for transit-oriented development in the gateway cities.

  5. Congratulations on being appointed to the new role of President Pro Tempore of the senate, a position in which based on your track record, you will excel! Thank you for your support and guidance on two environmental issues which impacted area residents in this community: air quality control and the clean-up of a portion of wetlands bordering our residences.
    Reading through your new job description and all that it will entail point to the inevitability of your continued success. Best of luck!

    Grace Scheibner

  6. Congratulations on new position in the senate. It’s well deserved and I know you will continue to be successful as President Pro Tempore.

  7. Congratulations Senator! Your efforts to move this state in a progressive direction are much appreciated.

  8. It is wonderful to know you will continue to move forward so deservedly, Will.
    Your thoughtful, deliberate & collaborative style of governmental problem solving will serve you and MA well . With best wishes to you ,

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