By Marc Munroe Dion
Herald News Staff Reporter
Diman Voke Superintendent/Director Tom Aubin speaks at a breakfast with Fall River business leaders on Friday Morning - Herald News Photo/Dave Souza
FALL RIVER — Business people got a chance to eat, mingle and get the ear of Sen. Michael Rodrigues at Diman Regional Vocational Technical High School Friday morning.
The Southcoast Business Breakfast filled the restaurant at Diman with a variety of community leaders and business owners.
“I try to do this every year, to listen to business,” Rodrigues said. “Non-profit or for-profit, one man shops to multi-employee businesses.”
Diman Superintendent-Director Thomas Aubin used his remarks to express some of his school’s needs.
“I am desperate to get a new school,” Aubin said “We will have 300 students this year who can’t get into Diman.”
Aubin said the school has about 1,400 students.
“And it was built for 800,” he added.
In addition to kids who want to get into Diman, but can’t, Aubin said the school faces new technological challenges all the time.
“Within 10 years, we have driverless cars coming,” Aubin said, adding that driverless cars will mean the automotive shop will need a lot of upgrades.
“I’m going to have to put at least 25 new computers into that shop.”
Rodrigues spoke to the assembled business people about the state’s budget, still being hashed out in Boston.
“The governor’s budget is more of a political statement than a workable budget. The governor is not mandated to produce a balanced budget. We are,” Rodrigues said.
Rodrigues said the state’s present tax structure is keyed to the old manufacturing economy, and offered up the example of the lodgings tax, which was written in 1969, and does not include what is now a burgeoning Bed & Breakfast sector.
Rodrigues said the state’s health insurance program MassHealth continues to eat up a big share of the state’s tax revenues, and that share is expected to grow.
Rodrigues said the increase in MassHealth participation is driven by an aging population, and by non-elderly, non-disabled people qualifying for MassHealth due to low incomes.
Rodrigues said the budget process continues, and that the Massachusetts Legislature is not infected with the kind of gridlock he said occurs in Washington D.C.
“That kind of thing doesn’t happen in Massachusetts,” he said. “It really doesn’t.”