BOSTON– Last Friday State Senator Nick Collins co-chaired a hearing of the Joint Committee on Ways and Means held at Roxbury Community College. The hearing including testimony on the FY2020 budget from executive agencies including the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, the Cannabis Control Commission, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and the Commission on the Status of Women.

Senator Collins was recently appointed to the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, the Legislature’s primary budget-writing committee. The Committee is responsible for taking the Governor’s recommendations for state spending and offering their own draft spending plan.  

At the hearing Senator Collins questioned the agencies on their spending plans, asking for data on specific programs, and encouraging them to continue investments in important areas like youth jobs, affordable housing, and diversity in the cannabis industry.

After hearing the testimony of Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Michael Kennealy, Senator Collins pressed the executive branch on the Governor’s stated opposition to exploring rent control. “Housing is one of the most important determinants of stability” said Senator Collins, “and right now, many people are locked out from that stability. It’s a crisis. Shouldn’t rent control and leveraging state land to build a higher percentage of affordable housing be part of the discussion about relief?”

In addition to the statewide conversation around local rent control proposals, Senator Collins has filed a bill to mandate the MBTA explore public private partnerships on surplus land in the city of Boston that might provide an opportunity to build more than the minimum 13% of affordable units. Similar partnerships in New York have not only resulted in the creation of more housing, but also provide the transit agency with significant and steady streams on revenue to fund major improvements.

“I was honored to have an opportunity to host this hearing in the heart of our city and speak to the issues that we face everday: youth employment, rising costs of housing, and the rollout of the cannabis industry,” said Senator Collins.