When it comes to winning real change for Massachusetts, the reality is that we aren’t limited by natural resources, technology or public opinion. Our biggest obstacle? A lack of urgency from political leaders to take action when it’s uncomfortable, in order to forge a new future for our state.
Bold, transformative change is possible. We just need to stand together, see each other’s fights as our own, and stop putting people in charge who are more concerned about holding onto power than doing something with it.
EducationReturn to top
Our state is known for our education system. But beneath the surface, it’s clear that the quality and quantity of education our kids get still depends on what you look like, where you live, and what’s in your wallet.
As a former public school teacher, Sonia knows first-hand the importance of providing our families, educators, and school districts the support they need to give every child the chance for success. As a policy-maker, she also knows that empowering an educated workforce is our state’s single best strategy for economic prosperity. Our next Governor should lead the way to make quality, debt-free, universal public education from birth to adulthood a reality for every Massachusetts student. Sonia released a comprehensive education plan, which will:
Establish universal early education as an affordable option for all families.
Fully implement K-12 education funding reforms from the Student Opportunity Act, expand behavioral health services, and dismantle the school to prison pipeline.
Provide debt-free public college for all Massachusetts students.
It’s also why she’s led the fight to increase funding for schools, and in particular for our highest-need school districts, for her entire career:
Wrote and championed the Education PROMISE Act, which served as the basis for the Student Opportunity Act of 2019, winning $1.5 billion in new progressive aid annually to K-12 districts across the state — the most significant update of our state education funding system since 1993. She also held the line during years of negotiations to ensure the bill would prioritize funding to close the achievement gap for low-income students, students of color and English language learners.
Co-chaired the bi-partisan Foundation Budget Review Commission, which concluded in 2015 that Massachusetts was underestimating the cost of K-12 education by $1-2 billion every year and was drastically underfunding school districts with high proportions of students of color and low-income students. The commission’s recommendations were implemented with the Student Opportunity Act of 2019.
Negotiated key reforms to statewide education policy to allow public schools to provide bilingual education to English Learners, reform the state’s school discipline laws, and expand civics education in Massachusetts.
Advocated for legislation to expand access to high quality early education and childcare for families across the Commonwealth.
Consistently prioritized increased funding for early educator salaries and subsidies to reduce waitlists for children in need of care.
Climate ChangeReturn to top
The fight against climate change isn’t about just one issue — it’s the whole ballgame. Climate change touches nearly every problem we face today and threatens the future of our families and communities. Massachusetts should meet this moment and lead the nation in protecting our planet, greening our infrastructure and creating good jobs with a Green New Deal for our state, and standing with communities of color to fight the disproportionate impacts of climate change and build generational wealth in the green economy.
For 12 years in the Senate, Sonia has stood up to the fossil fuel industry and led the charge for environmental justice. She backed key legislation to commit the state to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and write environmental justice into Massachusetts law. This session, she also organized 28 legislators to call for ending state incentives for new fossil fuel infrastructure. She’s also fought for legislation to create equitable access to solar energy and protect communities that have been disproportionately impacted by pollution.
Sonia won’t take campaign donations from fossil fuel executives. Instead, she’s standing shoulder to shoulder with climate scientists and activists and will lead the fight for real change in the governor’s office.
Our next Governor should:
Pass a Massachusetts Green New Deal to build our new green energy economy, electrify our infrastructure across the state, and create good jobs with family-sustaining wages.
Establish a 100% renewable, carbon-free electric grid by 2030.
Eliminate all carbon emissions from new buildings by 2030 and transition existing buildings to become zero-carbon by 2045.
Decarbonize, expand, and make fare-free public transit to reduce fossil fuel emissions and build a 21st century transit system to connect communities across our state.
Veto all tax credits and government support for new fossil fuel infrastructure.
Eliminate barriers to renewable energy faced by low-income communities and communities of color.
Pass new legislation to protect communities disproportionately impacted by air and water pollution.
Racial JusticeReturn to top
Our state and our country are faced with a racial reckoning today — one that spans all the way from education to criminal justice to health, economic development, transportation, and climate policy. People of color still face systemic discrimination, racist disparities in policing and incarceration, and a yawning racial wealth divide. This is one of the most pressing moral issues of our time, and we need to meet it with much more than reassuring words.
Our next Governor must:
Lead the charge to close the racial wealth divide, including:
Making quality preschool and debt-free college a reality for all Massachusetts families, and closing vast funding gaps between K-12 schools in communities of color and their white counterparts.
Implementing rigorous goal-setting, tracking, and targeting of resources in the billions of dollars’ worth of spending the state will undertake to deploy federal recovery and infrastructure funding — similar to the Racial Equity Scorecard that Sonia helped design for the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act spending package. Massachusetts has the chance to make significant leaps toward equity with the jobs, contracts, and programming these funds will create.
Investing in small business technical assistance grants, which disproportionately serve local entrepreneurs of color, as well as increasing access to capital, and lowering barriers to entry, for people of color and other local entrepreneurs to build businesses in emerging industries like green energy and cannabis.
Reinvesting savings from the state’s incarceration system back into Black and brown communities that were disproportionately targeted by the War on Drugs.
Instituting strong and transparent diversity metrics for all state contracts, and prioritizing contracts with minority- and women-owned businesses.
Increasing pay for childcare workers, who are largely women of color and currently make on average about $30,000 per year — wages that in many cases qualify them for poverty assistance programs.
Creating more opportunities for lower- and middle-income families to build generational wealth through homeownership.
Increase access to both affordable housing and transportation, so Bay Staters of color can spend more time with their families and advancing their careers, and less on the road. She will also support legislation to prevent discriminatory land use decisions that can be used to block the development of affordable housing.
Ensure that when state policy decisions are made, leaders of color are at decision-making tables as well as “advisory” tables.
As the first Latina and first person of Asian descent elected to the Massachusetts State Senate — and often the only woman of color serving in that body during her tenure — Sonia has been a leader on racial justice issues throughout her career, including:
Achieving a statutory ban on racial profiling by police, as well as demographic data tracking on all traffic stops, so we can identify and combat racial disparities in law enforcement.
Closing opportunity gaps in our schools for children of color by winning $1.5 billion in new progressive aid for K-12 schools and passing laws to prohibit the overuse of school expulsion and suspension, and to reform Massachusetts' system for English language education.
Supporting budget measures to build wealth and small business ownership in communities of color across our state, and fighting for laws to strengthen our state's own procurement with minority-owned businesses.
Reforming our broken criminal justice system that disproportionately impacts communities of color, including passing police accountability legislation in 2020, and repealing racist mandatory minimum sentences in 2018.
Securing equity provisions in Massachusetts law governing the new marijuana industry.
HousingReturn to top
We are facing a housing crisis all across Massachusetts. From our biggest cities to rural towns, retirees are being forced out of the communities they’ve lived in for decades, young people and immigrants can’t find apartments they can afford to rent, municipal workers can’t afford to live in the communities they serve, and too many families are now facing eviction and foreclosure. We must solve this crisis to ensure all Bay Staters can afford to live here and raise their families here.
Our next Governor must tackle our state’s housing crisis head-on by stabilizing the housing market, expanding tools to limit runaway rent increases, putting the dream of home ownership within reach for working families, and fighting for policies to:
Increase housing production, particularly higher-density, multifamily developments near public transit options across the state.
Significantly increase funding to support the expansion of affordable housing by passing the HERO Act.
Stabilize neighborhoods and prevent displacement by increasing rental and legal assistance programs; encouraging the creation of land trusts; and giving local cities and towns the option of establishing reasonable caps on annual rent increases if it makes sense for their communities, such as tying annual increases to the Cost of Living index.
Make investments aimed at ending homelessness, including in more transitional housing support and longer-term housing paired with supportive services for individuals struggling with substance use disorder and/or mental illness.
Help close the racial wealth gap and create more opportunities for lower- and middle-income families to build generational wealth through homeownership.
Over her time in the Legislature, Sonia has consistently advocated for measures to combat the housing crisis, including:
Partnering with affordable housing advocates to target immediate funding resources into programs that have shown the most success at keeping people in stable homes, such as the RAFT program.
Supporting policies and funding to expand the amount of affordable housing in Massachusetts.
Promoting fair housing practices by pushing for legislation that prohibits cities and towns from making discriminatory land-use decisions, often used to block construction of affordable housing, and legislation to require court approval of foreclosures.
Economic Justice & DevelopmentReturn to top
Ensuring economic prosperity and security for all Bay Staters isn’t just about creating more jobs and attracting new businesses to Massachusetts — it’s about creating an economy that works for everyone. We need to make sure our jobs pay good, family-sustaining wages, close the racial wealth divide, and invest in equitable economic development to support local businesses.
During her time in the Senate, Sonia’s been a leading advocate for policies to ensure all jobs are good jobs and that no one in Massachusetts is trapped in poverty. She supported raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour and indexing it to inflation, as well as a nation-leading paid family and medical leave law.
Our next Governor must lead the charge to create good jobs and family-sustaining wages and benefits while developing the workforce to power Massachusetts’ 21st Century economy:
Create tens of thousands of new, good-paying jobs in Massachusetts through the state’s green energy transition, while creating workforce development opportunities for women, people of color, and workers without college degrees.
Invest in the physical and human infrastructure that fosters our educated workforce, makes it possible for workers to go to work, and promotes economic opportunity and equity, including:
Debt-free public higher education and full funding for K-12 schools to both solve the barriers that employers face to finding skilled, diverse talent and open up access to jobs in the burgeoning knowledge and green energy sectors that too few workers have access to.
Universal, debt-free child care and early education to make it possible for parents of young children to work outside the home.
Safe, reliable, widely-accessible public transit all across the state to make it easier for people in every community to get to their jobs, and easier for employers attract the workers they need.
Deliver strong equity standards for state contracts, to ensure that projects funded by taxpayer dollars — from construction to catering — are creating local jobs and promoting workforce and contracting diversity.
Implement equity provisions in the state law establishing the recreational cannabis industry. As Senate Chair of the Legislature's Cannabis Policy Committee, Sonia has continued to build coalitions and fight for reforms to ensure the cannabis industry builds wealth and opportunity for communities that have been harmed for decades by the War on Drugs.
Prioritize state investments to support small businesses, including the Small Business Technical Assistance program, which has helped thousands of local businesses across the state open, stabilize, and grow.
File legislation requiring more transparency and more accountability for state dollars spent on corporate tax credits, and require “clawbacks” of tax credit dollars when large corporations fail to live up to their local job creation commitments.
HealthcareReturn to top
No one should be forced to choose between their health care and the financial security of their family. But that’s what happens to people every day in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts has the highest rates of insurance coverage in the country. But costs are rising for families across the state and access to quality care continues to be determined too often by zip code, income, and the color of your skin. We need to end the ever-increasing premiums, high deductibles and copays, and skyrocketing prescription drug prices that put health care out of reach for too many. That’s our next Governor should:
Supports legislation to establish a single-payer “Medicare for All” system, following the lead of many countries around the world that have better health outcomes at a fraction of the cost.
Championed legislation to improve access to reproductive health services for individuals on MassHealth.
Supports efforts to ensure mental health services are covered by insurance to the same extent physical health care services are covered, because these services are just as vital to Bay Staters’ well-being.
Over the last 2 years, the COVID-19 pandemic has also laid bare glaring inequities in health care access and outcomes, particularly for Black and brown communities. That’s why Sonia has:
Joined with community leaders and advocates to fight for equity in the COVID response efforts, including increasing multilingual outreach and mobile vaccination efforts in the hardest-hit communities.
Partnered with legislators and advocates to win $200 million in funding to update our crumbling public health infrastructure to reduce inequities and ensure these systems can meet large scale public health challenges.
TransportationReturn to top
The success of our economy and the health and happiness of our residents depends on safe, convenient, efficient and affordable transportation. But our state has failed to invest in our transportation infrastructure for years, leaving too many Bay Staters sitting on disabled trains, waiting for buses that never come, and stuck in traffic for hours every week. With the right investments and leadership, we can build an efficient, affordable, 21st century transportation system that gets people where they need to go, safely and on time, while supporting our economy and reducing our carbon emissions.
As a frequent commuter on the MBTA’s Orange Line, as well as a driver who regularly criss-crosses the state to meet with residents across the Commonwealth, Sonia understands on a personal level the frustrations Bay Staters face when it comes to transportation. Unequal transit access also creates obstacles to economic prosperity for the communities that need it most, while trapping our residents in some of the worst traffic in the country.
In the Legislature, Sonia has been a steadfast champion of efforts to increase funding for public transportation, including spearheading efforts to raise new revenue to support these critical investments. She’s also helped lead the charge against MBTA fare hikes, including winning a statutory cap on fare increases.
Our next Governor must make bold new investments in a system that has been chronically underfunded for decades to ensure safe roads and bridges, expand access to public transit, and incentivize more sustainable ways for people to get from place to place:
Expand our public transit systems statewide to reduce fossil fuel emissions and connect communities — including developing East-West Rail to knit the whole state together and a robust, electrified Regional Rail system with all-day 15-minute to 30-minute train service.
Incentivize use of public transit by moving to a fare-free system. Sonia’s first budget proposal as Governor will include funding to remove fares from MBTA and RTA buses immediately, and she will lead the charge to identify additional sources of funding — such as repealing tax breaks for corporations that shift their income to off-shore accounts — to transition to a completely fare-free MBTA.
Support new incentives and rebates to make electric vehicles more affordable and accessible to communities across the state.
Promote attractive alternatives to driving in higher density areas, including biking, walking and Bus Rapid Transit. In addition to expanding public transit options, Sonia will support strong investment in shared streets programs that promote walking and biking infrastructure and ensure equitable access to that infrastructure, while working with cities and towns to think creatively about street improvements like bus/bike lanes and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) that can cut down commuting times.
Work with local and community leaders to address displacement concerns, and ensure that transit expansion and associated development benefit existing residents while also attracting sustainable growth and development.
Policing and Criminal JusticeReturn to top
It’s never been more clear that our policing and criminal legal systems are broken in Massachusetts and across our country. Decades of shortsighted criminal justice policies produced a costly, ineffective, and racist mess — targeting and incarcerating people of color while failing to provide real public safety. Thanks to the resilient efforts of Black and brown organizers, we’ve won some major legislative victories in the fight for reform. Now we need a Governor to implement and build on them, to ensure accountability, full implementation of our reforms, and continue the fight for justice.
Sonia knows that our policing and criminal legal systems are in urgent need of reform. Excessive use of force and police misconduct still occur far too often, and stark racial disparities continue in policing and incarceration. While our state’s incarceration rate is lower than most of the rest of the country, it’s still more than double that of countries like the United Kingdom, Canada, or France and more than three times what it was in Massachusetts in the 1970s. Massachusetts prisons have also exhibited a pattern of abusing and mistreating prisoners.
Sonia’s spent years fighting to reform our broken policing and criminal justice systems and won major reforms. Our next Governor must fully implement and build on the change she’s spent over a decade fighting for and passing into law, including:
Fully implementing the nation-leading police reform package passed in 2020, including critical measures that increased accountability and civilian oversight. The law, which Sonia championed and helped negotiate to the finish line, established a system for investigating and decertifying officers and set boundaries on police use of force — including banning chokeholds, limiting no-knock warrants, creating affirmative duties to intervene and de-escalate, banning racial profiling, and giving civilians and civil rights reformers real power on the police oversight board.
Fully implementing Criminal Justice Reform legislation passed in 2018, which included repeals of racist mandatory minimum sentencing laws for nonviolent drug offenses that Sonia championed. As Governor, Sonia will ensure all aspects of the law are effectively implemented, including adopting critical reforms of our state prison system, improving reentry programs, and prioritizing criminal justice data collection and reporting to promote transparency and accountability.
Passing the Justice Reinvestment Act, which calculates the savings from sentencing reforms and reinvests those funds into community education and workforce development programs, to help address underlying causes of crime and promote long-term community safety. She’ll also continue to champion tens of millions of dollars in the state budget for community reinvestments, youth violence prevention programming, and supports for community members returning from incarceration.
Installing new leadership at the DOC, committed to an overhaul of the departments culture and transparency — to ensure the legal, civil, and human rights of incarcerated individuals and their families are respected. Sonia will also push to establish strong independent oversight of the corrections system, to last past her governorship.
Our state should also invest state dollars in programs that promote long-term community safety and partner with leaders in communities of color to identify forward-looking priorities to reform our criminal legal system and ensure community safety.
Gender EqualityReturn to top
We’ve made so much progress on gender equality, and yet events of recent years — from the impact of the pandemic to alarming shifts in the makeup of the Supreme Court — have shown us how fragile that progress can be. We must continue to work to ensure equal rights and protections for people regardless of their gender in our Commonwealth.
Our next Governor must:
Delivering on her plan to establish a universal system of high-quality, accessible and affordable early education and child care for all young children and their families. Sonia knows that increasing the accessibility of child care is vital for ensuring that all women who wish to be in the workforce are able to do so.
Strongly supporting reproductive rights, including backing measures to expand realistic access to family planning services and secure the standards set in Roe v. Wade, no matter what happens on the federal level.
Filing legislation to provide better healthcare access for low-income people who have just given birth, including increasing access to post-partum visits as well as long-acting reversible contraceptives.
Pushing for laws to institute paid family leave, protect women from sexual assault on college campuses, and ensure pay equity.
LGBTQ+ RightsReturn to top
Sonia has been a strong ally for the LGBTQ+ community her entire career. She got her start as a young organizer working to protect equal marriage rights for same-sex couples, working for MassEquality, and was a lead sponsor of the Transgender Equal Rights laws passed in 2011 and 2016. These laws ensure equal protection for trans Bay Staters in employment, housing, credit, education, hate crimes and public accommodations. These were great steps forward, but Sonia knows that our queer and trans neighbors still face significant discrimination every day and serious disparities in economic stability and health outcomes.
For example, a recent study of the impact of the pandemic on LGBTQ+ youth found that they were significantly more likely to report poor mental health and housing insecurity. And, although lack of data collection and reporting from many Massachusetts state agencies means that state-specific data is unavailable, national data suggests that LGBTQ+ individuals are disproportionately represented in our justice system, our child welfare system, and among individuals who are homeless.
Our next Governor must ensure state agencies are responsive to the the needs of LGBTQ+ residents and implement policies designed to address disparities and promote inclusion, including:
Passing the Massachusetts Parentage Act, to ensure equality for LGBTQ families seeking to establish legal parentage.
Passing the Healthy Youth Act, to provide comprehensive LGBTQ-inclusive sex education.
Ensuring that people are able to list their sexual orientation and gender identity in critical state services systems, to better identify and address potential disparities in needs, service delivery and outcomes.
Supporting policies and programs that are responsive to the needs of LGBTQ individuals across facets of government and that aim to reduce disparities, from safe school programs to HIV prevention and treatment services to policies to ensure LGBTQ individuals in prisons and other congregate care settings are placed in locations consistent with their gender identity.
Voting Rights & Good GovernmentReturn to top
We know our government works best when it is open, transparent, and accountable to the people. That starts by securing the sacred right to vote for everyone. We must preserve and expand access to the ballot box to ensure communities of color and low-income communities have an equal voice in our government.
Our next Governor must champion transparency, accessibility, and accountability in state government and ensuring underrepresented communities have an equal seat at the table, including:
Instituting permanent vote-by-mail, same day voter registration, and increasing ballot access in jails and prisons and for returning citizens, all of which she’s championed for years. As a board member of MassVote and as a state legislator, she also helped win legislation creating automatic voter registration and early voting processes.
Establish systems to ensure that the voices and interests of historically underrepresented groups are more equitably represented in state government through appointments, hiring, and commission structures. Sonia has made this a priority throughout her work, dating all the way back to 2011 when she served as Vice Chair of the MA Senate’s Redistricting Committee and successfully advocated to increase the number of legislative districts in which the majority of the population was comprised of people of color.
Implement a wide variety of “good government” reforms, including maintaining our strong campaign finance laws and promoting more transparency and accessibility in state government.
Disability RightsReturn to top
Our next Governor should stand with disability rights advocates in the fight to make our state and our country genuinely accessible and inclusive.
It’s been more than 30 years since the landmark passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and significant progress has been made thanks to reform efforts and decades of work by advocates with disabilities. But today, the nearly 25% of Massachusetts residents with a disability face significant challenges and even ongoing discrimination in accessing quality health care, securing employment, finding accessible and affordable housing, and navigating our streets and our public transit systems, in part because the requirements of the ADA have not fully been enforced in the public or private sectors in Massachusetts. They are also significantly more likely than non-disabled residents to experience violence – both by their families and caregivers and by law enforcement. And, we’ve seen this is one of the communities in our state that has been hardest-hit by COVID-19, particularly those living in nursing homes and other institutions.
As the former Chair of the Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities, Sonia has been a strong advocate for the rights of people with disabilities, including filing legislation to ensure that people with disabilities in Massachusetts cannot be denied treatment on the basis of disability and protect them from the life-threatening discrimination they have faced, including from our own state government during the COVID-19 pandemic. She has also been a strong supporter and co-sponsor of legislation that will expand housing options for people with disabilities, reduce workplace discrimination against people with disabilities, create more higher education opportunities for students with intellectual disabilities, autism, and other developmental disabilities, and protect people with intellectual or developmental disabilities from abuse.
Sonia knows that so many policy issues – from housing to education to workforce development – will have major effects on people with disabilities. Our next governor ensure that the voices of people with disabilities are represented throughout the policy development and implementation work of her administration to make sure the critical needs of this population are fully considered.
Crack down on discrimination against people with disabilities in housing, healthcare, and employment, including by:
Increasing funding for paired testing programming through the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination
Banning discriminatory qualifications on job descriptions
Pushing healthcare providers to ensure all medical facilities are fully accessible to individuals with disabilities.
Making it illegal to deny or deprioritize someone for a medical treatment because of their disability, using legislation Sonia has championed as a senator as a model.
Enable as many people with disabilities as possible to live independently in the community, instead of in nursing homes, by investing in in-home supports and affordable housing while shifting MassHealth spending to better prioritize keeping individuals in independent living situations.
Address the biggest barrier to independence for people with physical disabilities — our aging, inaccessible housing stock — by creating new housing that is both affordable and accessible.
Decrease unemployment among people with disabilities by closing the loopholes in our building code that allow workplaces to remain inaccessible and promoting hiring of people with disabilities in government agencies.
Require and invest in non-police responses to people in mental health crisis, using legislation Sonia has championed as State Senator as a model.
Ensure our state’s disability agencies actually include leadership by people with disabilities.
Transition our public transit systems to be fully accessible, including making significant improvements to the accessibility of the Commuter Rail and the RIDE program.
Ensure that every student with a disability—especially those from low-income and immigrant-led households—gets the accommodations they need to succeed in school.