"I’ve enjoyed the work, I really love my district, the issues I’ve been able to work on, the people I’ve been able to work with," Rep. Steve Kulik (D-Worthington) said
State Rep. Stephen Kulik, D-Worthington, the powerful vice chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, will not run for re-election.
Kulik, 67, has been in the Legislature for 25 years. He has been a strong voice on behalf of rural communities.
"I've enjoyed the work, I really love my district, the issues I've been able to work on, the people I've been able to work with," Kulik said. "But I felt like I was getting to the point of 25 years where you reflect a bit and think about other things you might want to do with your time."
Kulik said he plans to stay in Worthington and "continue to be involved in issues that I care about and public policy matters."
Kulik was first elected to the House in 1993. As vice-chairman of Ways and Means, he has powerful sway in the budget-writing process. He has used that influence to champion rural issues, such as funding for regional school transportation.
"A lot of my work has focused on efforts in the budget every year to make sure small towns got an equitable slice of local aid and regional schools make out well in funding," Kulik said.
In the Legislature, many of Kulik's priorities have helped rural districts and agriculture. He was involved in a dairy task force that made it easier for dairy farmers to stay in business. He has pushed for state support of buy local programs and for a program that increases food stamp benefits for low-income people who buy fresh vegetables at farmers' markets. He is the founder and co-chair of the Legislative Small Town and Rural Caucus.
He said he has tried to focus on issues affecting his constituents related to healthcare, transportation, school funding, broadband, economic development, and human services.
Before he was elected to the Legislature, Kulik spent 15 years on the select board in Worthington.
Kulik said his decision to leave the House did not have anything to do with House Speaker Robert DeLeo's decision last summer to choose Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez, D-Boston, over Kulik to lead the Ways and Means Committee when former chairman Brian Dempsey, D-Haverhill, left the House.
Kulik said he was already thinking at that time that he might not run again. "Being Ways and Means chairman, you need to have a much longer term view and longer term commitment to that job," Kulik said.
Kulik will be active in this year's budget process as Ways and Means vice chairman. He said he also plans to continue work on bills over the next few months that would reform zoning rules, increase a tax credit for dairy farms and reform the Department of Public Utilities to "hopefully get them over the finish line" before he leaves.
The First Franklin district consists of 19 towns in Franklin, Hampshire and Hampden counties: Ashfield, Buckland, Chester, Chesterfield, Conway Cummington, Deerfield, Goshen, Huntington, Leverett, Middlefield, Montague, Plainfield, Shelburne, Shutesbury, Sunderland, Whately, Williamsburg, and Worthington.
Kulik announced his retirement one day after State Rep. John Scibak, D-South Hadley, announced that he would not run for another term. Scibak is chairman of the Joint Committee on Higher Education and, like Kulik, has long been a member of House leadership.
"Both of these gentlemen played key roles on the team and in some of the major legislation that has emanated from the House," DeLeo said. "They'll be severely missed."
Written by Shira Schoenberg, MassLive