Metro

Stanley Rosenberg talks about marijuana, charter schools

State Senate President Stanley Rosenberg spoke at Suffolk University on Tuesday during the Globe’s “Political Happy Hour” series.
Dina Rudick/Globe staff
State Senate President Stanley Rosenberg spoke at Suffolk University on Tuesday during the Globe’s “Political Happy Hour” series.

Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg said Tuesday that he is undecided about a ballot question to legalize marijuana, will make a good faith effort with colleagues to lift the charter school cap, and stands by the landmark casino law that he helped craft.

Rosenberg, an Amherst Democrat, discussed a number of issues with Boston Globe reporter Joshua Miller for the newspaper’s interview series “Political Happy Hour” at Suffolk University.

Regarding the marijuana question, which is expected to appear on the ballot in November 2016, Rosenberg said that he did not know enough about the issue, and that he looks forward to reviewing the findings of a Senate working group that is studying the matter.

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There is currently “not nearly enough information for me to make a decision” about legallizing the drug for recreational use, he said.

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Turning to charter schools, Rosenberg said that he has supported lifting the cap in the past “with reluctance,” and that lawmakers have to address a number of issues surrounding the limit, chiefly the funding formula for charters.

He said lawmakers will review the matter in January to see if they can move forward on legislation to lift the cap. If they cannot do so, a ballot question to lift it will probably go before voters in November.

“The jury is out on whether we can get there,” he said, adding that he and his colleagues would “give it a real honest try.”

Miller also asked Rosenberg, who played a key role in crafting the state’s casino gambling law, whether bringing gaming to the Commonwealth was a mistake, in light of scaled-down tax revenue projections for the Plainridge Park Casino , which opened in June.

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“No, it was not a mistake,” the Senate president said, noting that the prospect of a tribal casino in Massachusetts, which would not have to share revenue with the state, drove the need for gaming legislation.

He said it is too early to say whether the state will benefit in terms of revenue, since larger resort casinos, which are expected to attract a higher-spending clientele from out of state, have not yet opened.

Rosenberg also addressed reports that his fiancé, Bryon Hefner, is considering a run for a state Senate seat that includes parts of Boston.

He refused to say whether he would endorse Hefner in what figures to be a crowded Democratic primary, saying only that his fiancé has a right to seek public office and is doing “his due diligence” in considering a run.

In addition, Rosenberg had kind words for Governor Charlie Baker, a first-term Republican, who he said is doing “a terrific job.”

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He said “it’s fine” when asked about his relationship with House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, a Winthrop Democrat. He and DeLeo, he said, discuss policy over meals and weekly leadership meetings, where there is “a lot of interesting conversation."

Miller also pressed Rosenberg, a graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, on the failure to include $10 million in funding for UMass in a recent budget bill.

Rosenberg said lawmakers will “work to try to get that $10 million restored” and also touted additional budget increases for fiscal 2016, as well as tuition changes that made billing more transparent for students and families.

Other topics included state ethics regulations, which Rosenberg said can be “overreaching,” a recent trip to Israel that he and several Senate colleagues took to strengthen economic and cultural ties between that country and Massachusetts, and his hope that the Legislature will make progress fighting income equality.

Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.