In an election defined by a dour economy, Massachusetts voters face a stark choice in the race for governor, with the four candidates advocating widely divergent strategies for creating jobs, cutting runaway health care costs and changing the way state produces energy.
In recent interviews with the Globe, Republican Charles Baker and Democratic incumbent Deval Patrick challenged each other's positions on taxes, business regulations and the Cape Wind project; Independent Timothy Cahill proposed a plan to waive taxes on Massachusetts start-ups; And Green Rainbow candidate Jill Stein advocated a single-payer health care system and called for a loan fund to support green businesses.
Pick an issue:
A limited expansion of gaming is right for Massachusetts. I filed a bill, I sent an amendment back in response to the most recent bill to support three destination resorts. I'm not going to support no-bid contracts for track owners. I've been clear about that, and that's not going to change in the second term. If we're going to get a bill, it will be three resorts or up to three, because that's where we get the jobs and the revenue. I'm hopeful we'll get a compromise before the end of this calendar year and won't have to go back to step one in the coming session.
I would propose one resort casino and a couple of thousand slots out to bid. That seems to me to be enough to create opportunity for people who currently go to Connecticut and Rhode Island to stay in Massachusetts. I think anything more than that and we have no idea what the impact is going to be on existing businesses that compete for that entertainment dollar.
I would sign the legislation that was passed by the Legislature [that authorized three casinos and slot machines as two race tracks]. That would be the first piece of legislation I would sign if they would give it to me in that same form. I would start the process, start the bidding on the two slot parlor licenses and then start the process of siting a full-scale casino in Western Mass., which I think is viable. There's a lot of interest and political support for it really to jump start jobs, taking advantage of investors who want to invest billions in Massachusetts. I would like to implement a philosophy very much like the lottery's, where virtually all the money goes back to cities and towns unencumbered.
We don't want to move ahead with casinos by any means. It was not a good idea two years ago. It's an even worse idea now that casino profitability is really tanking and many of them are getting in trouble. How vision-less and thoughtless is Beacon Hill that they can't come up with a better idea than casino jobs? For every job created with casinos, some studies suggest you're actually losing 1.5 jobs out in the communities, especially from small businesses and restaurants and theaters and arts establishments that would be hurt by this.