BOSTON (WWLP) – Assistant majority leader Joseph Wagner of Chicopee holds one of the most influential positions at the statehouse.
22News reporter Jodi Reed sat down with Leader Wagner to discuss his thoughts on the proposed east-west rail service, balancing budgets, and reinvesting in the western Massachusetts economy.
While Leader Wagner isn’t opposed to a high-speed rail service connecting Springfield to Boston, he did express his skepticism of the plan.
Instead of shipping western Mass. residents into Boston to work, Leader Wagner discussed ways to employ people closer to home.
Industries like manufacturing, precision machining, and life sciences have seen a huge boost in state funding due in large part to Leader Wagner’s work in western Massachusetts.
In 2014 Baystate Health received 5.5 million dollars in capital grants to launch a digital health program. In June of 2019, Baystate Health received another 3.9 million dollar grant to fund a clinical trial unit.
As technology continues to advance, Leader Wagener sees this as an opportunity to educate and employ more residents all across the state.
For the past 13 years now the state has seen a spending deficit, meaning we spend more than they take in in revenue.
When asked how to balance the state budget, Leader Wagner explained that the state is required to deliver a balanced budget every year.
The proposed ‘millionaires tax’ would place a 4% tax on households that take in over a million dollars a year.
This money would go towards what Leader Wagner called ‘necessary improvements’ to the state’s education system.
The proposal will have to go through the next legislative cycle before it goes to the voters for final approval.
Moving forward, Leader Wagner sees the Massachusetts economy improving in the next 5 to 10 years if significant investments are made in innovation-driven fields.
This means the state will have to see the benefit that life science jobs provide for the overall economy, pushing the state towards a more tech-driven and energy conscious existence.
Needless to say, the future of Massachusetts looks bright through Leader Wagner’s eyes.