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Senate president shares priorities with Chamber

Date: 2/22/2012

Feb. 22, 2012

By G. Michael Dobbs

HOLYOKE — Senate President Therese Murray said the power outages caused by weather events last year were "simply unacceptable" and that the Senate is seeking greater accountability from utility companies.

Murray said that effort was part of the legislative agenda for the Senate. She made her remarks at the annual legislative luncheon of the Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce on Feb. 17.

She said the way the private power companies predicted the restoration of service must be addressed and there should be an in-state call center to handle questions from consumers.

She added the Senate would also look at the high cost of electricity in Massachusetts — "some of the highest [rates] in the country" — and the aging transmission infrastructure.

Murray spoke on the state's accomplishments including moving from 47th place in job creation in the country under Gov. Mitt Romney to fifth place during the Patrick Administration.

The unemployment rate statewide is currently at 6.8 percent, down from 8.3 percent at this time last year, she also noted.

Murray called for additional job training, as there are 120,000 positions that are unfilled in the Commonwealth and 40 percent of those are "middle skilled jobs."

Murray said the state has made progress with its economic recovery and the upgrades from bond rating agencies have indicated, "that we are doing better in these challenging times."

Mayor Alex Morse said that he would be announcing shortly a new downtown revitalization partnership and "a shared risk lending program for small businesses."

Next month, the city will launch "Buy Holyoke Now," a home-buying promotion that has worked well in other communities, Morse added.

He said there will be a new city website and asked everyone in the room to be "an ambassador for the city of Holyoke."

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