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.
Watch video at the right for extended responses from each candidate on how they would tackle the issue of jobs if they were elected governor, and read their abbreviated responses below.
The strategy we have is working, and that's how we've gotten the 65,000 jobs we have so far this year. The unemployment rate continues to go down. That's important. Obviously we have a lot more to do, but I'm certain the direction is right. The focus on small businesses is also key because they represent 85 percent of the businesses in the commonwealth. And as they see their commercial activity going up, when they get those health insurance bills, at double digit increases, they just don't see a way to be able to add those one or two or three positions. And if they don't add those positions, we don't get a recovery, simple as that. And that's why we've been so aggressive about the caps on health care premiums. The new bill I signed in August permits aggregation so that small businesses get the buying power big businesses do. We need to move aggressively on payment reform to get system costs down and make sure savings get passed down to consumers.
One of the first things I've talked about doing is a moratorium on new regulations and a top-to-bottom review of all of our existing regulations. Everywhere I go, small businesses especially tell me regulatory policy in Massachusetts is a huge problem for them. We also have to just stop willy-nilly raising fees. Truckers have faced huge increases in fees to register trucks. Every time I run into somebody in the construction industry, they tell me the state keeps jacking up fees associated with their permits. And we're not talking about $10 or $20. In some cases we're talking about hundreds of dollars. The bottom line is, I'm not going to raise taxes. I'm not coming back to the taxpayers. I'm going to reform state government, cut state spending, and clean up our regulatory mess. That's the kind of message you've got to put out there -- and mean it -- to get businesses to invest.
What we propose is something geared toward start-up businesses, which is entrepreneur tax relief. What it speaks to is my desire to grow businesses organically in the state, and incent people not to wait for someone to come in and hire them but go out and start their own business, like I did back in 1982. So for those folks who start their own businesses, what I would try to do is get legislation passed to give them a two- or three-year tax window where they don't have to pay income tax, sales tax on purchases or unemployment tax on employees. The idea is to get those businesses on the books, to let them know government is here to help them at the beginning, and get them through the first two or three years.
I would like to create a revolving loan fund, a low- or zero-interest loan fund using some of this money which is being squandered right now in these tax giveaways for insiders. In particular, we need jobs in weatherization. These are jobs that pay for themselves. Where energy is otherwise going out the window and up the roof, instead we get dollars and that gets put back into the economy. The local food economy is another area, and it's going like gangbusters, even with incredible disadvantages. But there are so many farmers markets and CSAs (community supported agriculture programs) -- these are ready to expand, but communities don't have the capital to do it, so I'd like to see loans there as well. The third area is transportation, so building bike paths and safe sidewalks and public transit. It re-integrates a more active lifestyle into our communities. One other area is the recycling economy and also clean manufacturing. We know that 90 percent of the waste stream is actually usable or recyclable, and that means employing people to sort, to re-manufacture, to re-engineer -- all sorts of spin-off factory-based jobs can be created.