NORTHBRIDGE, Mass. – Senate President Theresa Murray had good news and bad news for members of the Blackstone Valley Chamber of Commerce at a breakfast meeting on Wednesday.
The state is recovering faster than any other from the recession. Is is number one in education, fifth healthiest in the country and continues to add jobs, she said. The statistics, she said, are “clear indicators we continue to do better in these challenging times.’’
But the state is also facing a $1.6 billion deficit, so it’s unlikely the Governor’s budget will include raises for those working with the most vulnerable of its citizens, she said.
“They do God’s work and we don’t pay them enough,’’ Murray acknowledged, responding to a question of salary increases raised by Dennis Rice, executive director of Alternatives Unlimited which serves adults with psychiatric and development disabilities.
Murray said a main reason for the improvement in the state’s economy is its commitment to small business. She said 86 percent of Massachusetts businesses are small, with 19 or fewer employees.
“When the economy fell in ’08, small business took the brunt of it,’’ she said. “In the Senate, we know our small businesses are the engine for economic growth… small businesses must be part of the solution.’’
Among top priorities for the Senate, she said, is health care and toursm.
Murray was introduced at the meeting by Sen. Richard T. Moore, D-Uxbridge.
Murray, 37, of Plymouth, is the first woman president of the Massachusetts.
Prior to becoming Senate president, Murray served as chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee for four years, where her main responsibility was crafting the annual state budget.
Members of the Auburn Chamber of Commerce were guests of Wednesday's breakfast. The breakfast was sponsored by Main Street Connect.