Republican gubernatorial candidate Charles D. Baker today proposed a series of reforms to state government, a laundry list of 13 changes he said would save taxpayers more than $1 billion.
Calling his ideas the "Baker's Dozen," the GOP hopeful proposed eliminating rules requiring the use of union shops in public construction projects; changing state law to allow cities and towns to design their own health plans without union approval; consolidating the state agencies that award professional licenses and certification; and shrinking the health and human services department.
"We've chosen as a state to protect the special interests and sacred cows," Baker said at a press conference on the steps of the State House, with a handful of supporters holding campaign banners. "It's time for reform."
He added, "They are difficult, and disruptive and they ought to be."
Baker's running mate, Senate Minority Leader Richard Tisei, said, "we find ourselves sliding further and further into the danger zone," asserting that the state has not fundamentally restructured its budget during the economic crisis, relying instead on federal stimulus and rainy day money.
"There's just not an appetite here at this building to step up to the plate," he said.
Baker took aim at his rivals, Governor Deval Patrick and state Treasurer Timothy P. Cahill, saying they lacked the political will to change state government.
Patrick spokesman Alex Goldstein hit back in a statement, saying, "Much like the rest of Republican Charles Baker's misleading claims, today's announcement about supposed reforms has a lot of holes in it."
Goldstein also highlighted Baker's support for the Quinn Bill, a lucrative bonus payment system for police that Patrick has phased out, and his opposition to using civilian flaggers, another Patrick initiative.
"Governor Patrick and Lieutenant Governor Murray took the actions their Republican predecessors refused to take and have delivered on real reforms, passing strong pension, ethics, auto insurance, transportation, and education reforms that have already saved taxpayers and consumers over $500 million," Goldstein said.
For more on Baker's reform plan, go here.
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