I wanted to take a moment to share some items of interest.
CIRCUIT BREAKER TAX CREDIT
I am pleased with the new tax credit for Massachusetts senior citizens age
65 and older called The Circuit Breaker. Seniors whose property
tax payments exceed 10 percent of their annual income, and seniors who rent
their homes can take advantage of the program. No special application is required.
If you believe you are qualified, you can receive this credit by filling out
a 2001 Massachusetts state income tax return before the April 15 2002 deadline.
For more information contact the state Department of Revenue Customer Service
Bureau at 1-617-887-MDOR or toll-free at 1-800-392-6089 or contact my office
EARLY RETIREMENT BILL
As former Senate Chairman of the Committee on Public Service I co-sponsored
the Early Retirement Bill. Passed in December, the Early Retirement incentive
program allowed certain eligible seniors employed by the state to file for
retirement five years earlier. The program was designed to reduce staffing
levels by providing viable early retirement incentives while realizing significant
cost savings to the state budget. As many as 4,000 involuntary layoffs were
avoided, and hundreds of millions of dollars were saved. A similar bill to
help reduce town expenses and avoid involuntary layoffs is expected to pass
EQUAL CHOICE BILL
As many of you may know, I have filed the Equal Choice Bill aimed at providing
seniors with equal access to home care services under Medicaid. The legislation
has been endorsed by thousands of seniors across the state including the senior
advocacy group Massachusetts Senior Action Council and by Mass Home Care.
I am pleased to report that the Equal Choice Bill has been approved by the
Committee on Human Services and Elderly Affairs and it is now before the Committee
on Ways & Means.
Launched last April, the nations first prescription drug insurance plan
for elders and people with disabilities enrolled more than 70,000 people this
past year. The programs development team has made 450 visits in 168
communities since last year to maximize awareness and enrollment. For more
information or to apply call 1-800-AGE-INFO and press 1 for Prescription Advantage.
I am currently serving my third term as Senator from the Suffolk and Norfolk
District representing parts of Boston, Avon, Canton, Randolph and Milton.
Under redistricting scheduled to go into effect in January 2003, I will also
begin representing the towns of Stoughton, West Bridgewater, and parts of
Braintree, Sharon, Easton and East Bridgewater. Senate and House districts
are restructured every ten years to reflect demographic shifts. As a result
of a population boom in the southeast section of the state, my district was
expanded southward. I view this as an opportunity to learn about new issues,
familiarize myself with different communities, and meet as many new constituents
We are facing an economic challenge the likes of which have not been seen
since the fiscal crisis of 1988-92. State revenues fell by $225 million in
September, $120 million in October, $45 million in November, and $96 million
in December. The numbers represent a shortfall of $2 billion in Fiscal Year
2002 and tax collections are running $275 million below the previously estimated
$190 million. This is going to be a difficult year for everyone, and some
compromising may be necessary. However, I remain committed as ever to improving
care for seniors.
The New England Pension Assistance Project is a resource based at the Gerontology
Institute of UMass Boston. The Project offers a hotline to help seniors answer
pension questions, including whether persons are entitled to a pension, how
their social security benefits affect their pensions, whether persons can
receive payments from the pension of a deceased spouse and whether early retirement
plans should be accepted. The Projects services include individual counseling,
attorney referrals and financial advisors, and services are free and confidential.
The Pension Assistance Project can be reached at 1-617-287-7311.
FREE GED AND COLLEGE PREP FOR VETERANS
The Veterans Upward Bound Program at the University of Massachusetts
Boston offers free evening college preparatory services and high school equivalency
classes to men and women of all ages who served in the United States Armed
Forces. The program also provides academic advising, tutorial assistance,
textbooks, school supplies, and a modest transportation stipend. The program
is rolling admission with three 18-week cycles beginning September, January,
or May. For more information, contact Frank Boback at 617-287-5873.
Due to record cold temperatures, many homeowners are still struggling
to pay last years heating bills. For fuel assistance, please contact
Self Help Inc. at 800-225-0875, the Citizens Energy Oil Heat Program at
1-877-563-4645, or the Massachusetts Winter Heating Helpline at 1-866-ENERGY-7.
Questions or concerns? Please contact me at my office at (617) 722-1643,
my home at (617) 696-0200, by email at [email protected],
or visit my website at www.BrianAJoyce.com
Thank you for allowing me to work for you.
BRIAN A. JOYCE