Creating good paying, stable jobs in our state is a top priority for Jerry. Massachusetts is making progress, as we have begun to stabilize employment and invest in our state's economy. Jerry voted to assist businesses by freezing unemployment insurance rates, saving companies throughout the state millions of dollars. Jerry supported a recently passed economic development bill that will allow investments in our roads and bridges, and high tech industry, bringing hundreds of jobs to our state. Massachusetts has one of the highest energy costs in the nation, so Jerry supported legislation to promote renewable energy programs like wind and solar power to not only provide jobs, but help reduce our nationís dependence on foreign oil. Jerry also believes promoting tourism will create jobs and bring much-needed revenue to our state. It is estimated some 128,000 jobs are directly related to tourism, and dollars spent here from out of state visitors will create jobs for our citizens and provide much-needed revenue to the Commonwealth.
With his daughter Sophia in the seventh grade, Jerry understands one of the most essential functions of our state and local government is providing quality public education. He is grateful for the quality public education he received growing up in Beverly, and will support efforts to improve quality in the system for todayís youth.
Jerry understands that local aid is vital to our City and helps Beverly provide top-notch education to its students. Beverly has received increased funds for our schools in each of the budgets Jerry has been in office and he will fight to continue this trend. Jerry has been instrumental in helping secure nearly $50 million in state funds to build the new state-of-the-art middle school.
Massachusetts is home to many prestigious colleges and universities, attracting students from around the world. Yet, tuition costs are out of reach for many local families. Jerry voted for legislation that provides up to a $2,000 tax deduction for those that invest in so-called 529 education and pre-paid tuition plans. Jerry understands how expensive college can be, and Jerry himself worked in construction for several years to save money to enroll at Emerson College, and eventually go to Law School. Jerry supports our public colleges and universities in their efforts to provide high quality education affordable to all, and supported a budget that froze tuition and fees at our state colleges for two years.
Our nation owes its freedom to those who serve in our armed forces. As a 23-year veteran of the Army Reserve, Jerry considers it an honor to serve his country and fights to ensure veterans receive the benefits they rightly deserve, and is proud to have served as chairman of the Veterans Committee in the Legislature. During Jerry's tenure in the House, laws have been passed providing unprecedented services and benefits to our veterans, including protecting our students called to active duty, providing academic and professional credit for military service, a program to help veterans injured in war with home modifications, provide veterans preference in public housing and make veteran's status a protected class in our discrimination laws. He understands the challenges our service members and veterans face as they return home after serving our country. Jerryís Reserve duties included deployments to Iraq, Bosnia, as well as providing free legal assistance to soldiers and their families at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Jerry also volunteers for the Massachusetts Bar Associationís veterans Dial-A-Lawyer program. He finds it troubling that almost one-third of the adult homeless population are veterans, and will work with veteranís groups to take care of those who served our country.
Jerry believes a modern transportation system is critical to ensuring the economic growth of our state. Jerry helped secure funds for the recently built commuter garage located near the Beverly Depot, which provides residents with a much needed place to park, but also help the environment by promoting public transportation. The state has begun a complete upgrade of Route 1A (Rantoul Street) from near the Beverly-Salem Bridge to the Memorial School. The state also awarded Beverly $5 million to improve the off-ramp at exit 19 near Brimbal Avenue. Jerry also helped the City secure millions of dollars in so-called Chapter 90 funds to fix our roads.These projects, and others, provide jobs for our community and improve our transportation infrastructure.