Reporter's Notebook: Senate hopefuls weigh in on budget deliberations

State senators this week dove into a debate over their $33.9 billion version of the fiscal 2014 budget. The lawmakers were starting to rip through the hundreds of amendments as the Reporter went to press.
According to the State House News Service, the budget includes “$430 million in new taxes, $800 million in revenue growth and $627 million in reserves and one-time funding to support a $1.4 billion increase in year-to-year spending.”

The Reporter asked the two candidates for state Senate their thoughts on the budget; both said they would have to take a closer look at it. State Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry, a Dorchester Democrat, and Joseph Ureneck, a Dorchester Republican, are vying for the state Senate seat left vacant by South Boston’s Jack Hart.

“I need to take a look at some of the things they’re putting in it,” said Dorcena Forry, who is married to Reporter editor Bill Forry.

Dorcena Forry voted in April for the House version of the budget, which totaled $34 billion. The budget passed on a 127 to 29 vote, with Republicans lining up against it.

Dorcena Forry said she was supportive of several amendments submitted by state Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, a Jamaica Plain Democrat. She singled out one amendment dealing with job programs for at-risk youth, and said she similarly supported increased funding in the House. Chang-Diaz’s amendment includes $11 million, up $2 million from last year.

Chang-Diaz has also put forward amendments providing $23.9 million for full-day kindergarten; $19.1 million for METCO, which promotes diversity in education in 35 school districts; $2 million for violence prevention grants; $32 million for adult basic education; $3 million for community health center grant program; and $8 million for prison rehabilitation programs.

Dorcena Forry said one of her priorities remains the completion of the Neponset Greenway trail, a $16.7 million item that was included in Gov. Deval Patrick’s version of the budget, but was left out of the House and Senate versions. Dorcena Forry said she hopes lawmakers are able to get it into a bond bill down the road.

She said she will also focus on Morrissey Boulevard, a roadway which frequently floods. “We need to get that handled once and for all,” she said. “There’s flooding all the time, and that’s a major thoroughfare that connects the community.”

Asked about the budget on Monday, Ureneck said domestic violence programs were not receiving money in proportion with the domestic violence problem, and it amounted to a “lot of money going down the tube.”

In a statement sent out on Tuesday, Ureneck said the budget should include amendments that offer “support for men and fathers.”

“The State of Massachusetts provides virtually no support for fathers who are separated from their children and without housing following separation and divorce. Despite reports indicating that men between the ages of 35 and 50 are three times more likely to commit suicide than women there is no support for them in the state budget,” the release said.

“‘Domestic violence’ funds are routinely used to remove fathers from their homes and break up families,” the release added.

Walczak camp taps former Jackson aide as finance director

Bill Walczak’s mayoral campaign has brought on a former aide to Tito Jackson and Gov. Deval Patrick. Miguel Chavez, who has worked in Jackson’s office and on his campaigns, will serve as Walczak’s finance director.

Walczak, a Savin Hill resident who cofounded the Codman Square Health Center, is among 16 candidates vying to succeed retiring Mayor Thomas Menino.

“There’s a lot of great candidates,” Chavez, a 32-year-old Egleston Square resident, said of Walczak. “Once I met him, I gravitated to his vision. He’s been walking the walk. He’s the real deal.”

Chavez has also worked as a Latino liaison for the Menino administration. In Jackson’s office, he served as director of external affairs, and held down the title of lead regional field organizer and office manager at the Roxbury campaign office of Patrick’s reelection campaign in 2010.

Another possible 12th Suffolk candidate surfaces

A Hyde Park resident, Carlotta Williams, has opened a 12th Suffolk House campaign account with the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF).

With state Rep. Dorcena Forry expected to win Tuesday’s general election to replace former state Sen. Hart, a list of candidates is beginning to emerge in the possible battle to succeed her.

Dorcena Forry’s 12th Suffolk House district includes Peabody Square, Cedar Grove, Lower Mills, and Mattapan. Dorcena Forry won the seat in a special election in 2005, after House Speaker Thomas Finneran stepped down.

Dan Cullinane, who has been working on Dorcena Forry’s Senate campaign and is the vice president of the Cedar Grove Civic Association, is mulling a run.

Stephanie Everett, a former aide to state Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz (D-Jamaica Plain), and Mary Tuitt, an aide to state Rep. Gloria Fox (D-Roxbury), are said to be also considering campaigns for the House seat.

In her OCPF filing, Williams listed Shalena Taylor of Mattapan as her treasurer.

Williams, a Democrat, could not be reached for comment.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Check out updates to Boston’s political scene at The Lit Drop, located at dotnews.com/litdrop. Material from State House News Service was used in this report. Email us at newseditor@dotnews.com and follow us on Twitter: @LitDrop and @gintautasd.