Yes. I support no more than three destination resort-style casinos because that is the setting in which we get more jobs at higher wages and benefits; more revenue because the facilities are not limited to gambling, but include recreation, shopping entertainment, hotels and meeting space, and fewer relative social costs.
"Racinos," or slot parlors, bring more social harm than they do benefits. In any event, I will not support no-bid contracts for track owners.
The Legislature has it in its power to return to session and approve the three-resort-casino plan to create thousands of jobs. I have called for them to do just that.
Do you support the expansion of gambling in the state? If yes, what combination of casinos and slot machines do you support? If no, why not?
Yes. I support no more than three destination resort-style casinos because that is the setting in which we get more jobs at higher wages and benefits; more revenue because the facilities are not limited to gambling, but include recreation, shopping entertainment, hotels and meeting space, and fewer relative social costs.
No. Casinos are job killers because they create nothing while taking money out of the productive economy. Each slot machine pulls enough money out of our economy to kill one job.
The job claims made by Governor Patrick are fundamentally misleading because they are not taking job losses into account. Casinos mostly concentrate jobs in the three casino host communities. This will result in pink slips being handed out elsewhere. And taxpayers will be stuck with paying for a host of social problems caused by gambling addiction, as well as the huge government bureaucracy required to oversee gambling operations.
Nevada, which is loaded with casinos, has the highest unemployment rate in the nation - 14.2%. Massachusetts is around 9%. Nevada also leads the nation in foreclosures and bankruptcies. And Atlantic City, with 11 casinos concentrated within the city, has a jobless rate higher than Boston. Do we really want to emulate these economies? Let's not go down that road.
In the final analysis, it doesn't matter whether it's three casinos or one. History shows that once gaming interests come into a state, they further corrupt the legislature, and they get as many casinos as they want.
What's the alternative? Rather than a possible 12,000 low-wage, dead-end casino jobs, we could be creating 50,000 secure green jobs - jobs that we can create in every community in Massachusetts, not just in three casino communities.
We can have jobs that make our environment cleaner and make people healthier - and which won't disappear if oil prices spike. And these jobs save us a lot of money in reduced energy costs and by reducing costly chronic disease. This is a win-win for us all.
We can and must start generating these jobs now.
When elected governor, my first act will be to sign the casino gaming legislation that was passed by the Legislature this summer.
Though the bill is not perfect, it will immediately create 15,000 jobs and provide dedicated revenue to help the looming budget deficit.
I do not believe the government should dictate how adults spend their entertainment dollars, and barring gaming in Massachusetts will not stop people from gambling in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Maine. Massachusetts needs to start competing with our neighbors in this industry.
I support one resort casino and a limited number of slot machine licenses.
Current gaming locations - racetracks and former racetracks - make the most sense, but the owners of those tracks should have to bid for the licenses.
Cities and towns should have the right to vote on whether or not to have one located in their communities, and the revenue raised should go to the cities and towns.
What specific steps would you take to provide property tax relief to cities and towns? Do cities and towns need new tools to help reduce costs?
I am the only candidate in this race who believes we should reduce property taxes.
In my first term, we have cut the percentage yearly increase in property taxes by 40% and given cities and towns the tools they need to take the pressure off property taxes.
The other candidates propose cutting local aid, which will almost certainly increase pressure to raise local property taxes.
I believe that the way to reduce property taxes is to give cities and towns additional tools to cut costs and raise alternative revenue, such as modest local option meals or hotel taxes.
We've put forward several cost savings proposals in our two Municipal Partnership bills, and many have now passed into law.
Many municipalities have reduced their health insurance costs by moving municipal employees into the lower-cost state health insurance program.
Underperforming local pension plans can now become a part of the state pension plan, saving local communities the cost of administration.
We are also examining ways to drive down special education costs by maximizing federal reimbursement for Medicaid-eligible students.
We've helped school systems achieve savings by improving schools' energy efficiency or installing alternative generation such as solar panels.
Finally, local communities can save tens of millions of dollars by moving their retirees into Medicare; even if they choose to make up the difference in benefits, local communities will see substantial savings.
Many municipalities are interested in "plan design" as a strategy to lower health care costs. I support this so long as it provides a seat at the table for labor, just as we have in the state's GIC plan.
I proposed a compromise that involves all interests. Cities and towns that are taking advantage of the GIC are already accruing savings that can be used towards balancing their budgets and saving for the future.
I am the only candidate in this race who not only believes we should reduce property taxes, but has the backbone to get it done.
We cannot reduce property taxes if we continue the policy of the Patrick administration of constantly giving in to lobbyists seeking to shift taxes from corporations onto the backs of workers and communities.
I will restore the cuts in state aid that have led to property tax increases across the Commonwealth. I will work closely with municipal leaders on the full range of proven cost-saving measures. But I reject the proposals by Governor Patrick and Charlie Baker that involve balancing municipal budgets by shifting health care costs onto the backs of municipal employees.
To ensure that we can find the money to help our cities and towns, I will go after the waste that both Deval Patrick and Charlie Baker are defending - such as the bogus 'economic development' tax breaks for big corporations. These tax breaks rarely return the taxpayer's investment.
And while those with insider connections benefit, they rob our budget of the resources for education, health care, and transportation infrastructure that all businesses need to thrive in the Commonwealth.
Going further, I will fight the host of regressive tax and fee hikes that Beacon Hill has been using to balance the budget. I will introduce comprehensive tax reform that addresses the unfairness in our tax system that causes middle-income and working families to pay at twice the rate as millionaires.
A governor whose first priority is to give tax breaks to his wealthy campaign donors will never deliver tax relief to ordinary people. To prevent any obligations to repay favors, I refuse campaign donations from lobbyists and favor-seeking CEOs.
I'm the only candidate in this race who will be a different kind of governor - one who listens to the people and is not beholden to big money lobbyists.
I will do everything under my power as governor to grow jobs in the state. I believe that putting the 300,000 unemployed citizens of the Commonwealth back to work is the only honest way to reduce the tax burden on families and individuals, and return the state to fiscal health.
I have proposed entrepreneurial tax relief for the first three years of a small start-up. This will encourage job creation throughout the Commonwealth and help foster an environment more conducive to small business growth.
During the 13 years I served as city councilor in Quincy, I often had to deal with local tax issues. From those experiences, I know that the best way to manage tax revenues and burdens is to foster a healthy environment for job growth.
I would apply those same lessons of local government to local property tax relief.
I don't believe that the state should be balancing its budget at the expense of Massachusetts cities and towns.
I served on the Board of Selectmen in my hometown of Swampscott, so I have a deep appreciation for how vital local aid is. This money directly funds core local services like public safety and education, and as governor, I will fight to protect this funding and promote policies to help cities and towns succeed without having to increase their property taxes year after year.
Governor Patrick has cut more than $700 million in local aid during the past four years, forcing cities and towns to lay off teachers, firefighters, and police, and cut back on local services. Today, there are 3,200 fewer teachers than when Governor Patrick took office.
Many of the reform proposals I made during this campaign would directly affect cities and towns and help them save taxpayer money, most of which are opposed by Governor Patrick. Municipalities need the flexibility to alter health care plans for local employees, the same way the state does, and cities and towns should be able to join the state's health care system without jumping through union hurdles. If I'm governor, they will have that flexibility.
What is the single most important challenge facing the state's education system? What would you do to address it?
The achievement gap. And stuck in the gap are poor children, children with special needs, or who speak English as a second language, often children of color.
Closing this gap is the single most important challenge facing our education system. These children are part of our Commonwealth family, too, and should be left behind no longer.
For that reason, working with the Legislature, we passed the Achievement Gap Act in January, the most sweeping education reform measure in 17 years.
It provides new rules and tools to reach the children we're not reaching, such as doubling the charter school cap in underperforming urban districts, permitting new in-district innovations, and adding heightened teacher supports and accountabilities. With the Race to the Top grant, we can accelerate our work on these strategies.
Public education is the most important investment we have. For all these reasons, protecting and improving education for our young people has been our top priority.
I am very proud of our record. Thanks to our teachers, we are first in the nation in student achievement and a national leader in educational innovation.
Thanks to our landmark education reform bill, we have introduced more choices and innovative ideas, and more accountability, to the classroom.
And despite unprecedented budget challenges, we fund our public schools at the highest level in history.
Because of our commitment to excellence in education, we won the national Race to the Top competition, earning our state $250 million over the next four years. We also lead a consortium of states that won $170 million to strengthen the tools we use to measure student performance.
So much of what we have worked on together in the first term is about laying the foundation to close the achievement gap. I want to continue to work with teachers, parents, students and innovators across the Commonwealth to improve Massachusetts schools for now, and for a generation to come.
Public education is under increasing attack from agents of privatization, and our most important challenge is to strengthen our public schools in the face of that attack.
Every child should have access to a quality public school in their neighborhood or community. Undermining public schools by underfunding them and then promoting privatization as a solution will inevitably lead to more expensive education, inequality, and loss of the democratic right to a quality free education.
Governor Patrick's education reform bill enables a plan to be imposed on a public school that involves firing all the teachers, tearing up teacher contracts, and turning the school over to a private charter school company.
This bears no resemblance to any proven process for helping students or addressing the 'achievement gap' - it only opens the door for private companies to bleed money from our education budget with little accountability to the communities in which they operate.
I will seek repeal of the Race to the Top scheme that requires us to compete to get back the tax dollars we send to Washington. Such schemes are, in reality, cuts to public education disguised as competitions.
I will restore the focus on education for the whole student for lifetime learning. I will use standardized tests for assessment, but will eliminate the high-stakes graduation requirement that punishes students unfairly and distorts the educational mission.
I will restore the Patrick administration's cuts to our public schools, libraries, and colleges. I will work with our teachers rather than using them as scapegoats.
Massachusetts has a proud history of support for education, and this has made us the most highly educated state in the nation. We need to build on this success and not turn our educational system over to the privatization advocates at the federal or state level who are pursuing their own hidden agenda.
The broad achievement gap is the biggest challenge facing Massachusetts schools. While this is an issue across the country, it is especially problematic in Massachusetts. There are many chronically under-performing schools, mainly in inner-city school districts.
This has been a perpetuating problem for years in this state, and there is no silver bullet that will solve it. But we must look at all options to find creative solutions and simply relying on charter schools is not the answer.
We must remain committed to a highly stringent system of standardized testing like the MCAS. Massachusetts has had the highest standards in the country for many years, and I credit those standards with our ascent to the country's top achievement level.
The new national standards will be higher than those in Massachusetts, and our secretary of education will chair the board that sets those standards. It is my hope that the national standards will remain as strong as those we currently have in place. If they do not, I will move to pull Massachusetts from the program immediately.
We have to close the achievement gap and help students who are in chronically under-performing schools.
Massachusetts should lift the charter school cap, and we should focus on expanding the presence of charter schools in under-performing districts. Right now, it would take 80 years for every student on the charter school waiting list to get into a school. Opening more charter schools and giving students more choice would be a priority in my administration.
I will also fight to maintain the high standards and curriculum that have propelled Massachusetts students to the best in the nation. Governor Patrick's decision to abandon MCAS and hand the keys to our education system over to the federal government was the wrong one for Massachusetts, and I will fight it if I'm elected.
Do you agree with Arizona's new immigration law? If not, what should the state do about illegal immigration?
I do not believe Arizona's new immigration law is right for Massachusetts.
Massachusetts is home to one of the most diverse and well-educated foreign-born populations in the United States. Many of our families came here as immigrants at one time or another, and I worry about the impact on them of the tone and tenor of our conversation about immigration in general.
We need strong and comprehensive immigration reform at the national level, as I have consistently favored, but it needs to be consistent with our values as Americans, and respectful of the immigrants who are here legally, trying to make a better life for themselves.
That said, Massachusetts currently screens applicants for a whole host of public benefits, as it should, to assure that only those entitled to benefits receive them.
We have worked with the Attorney General on an Underground Economy Task Force that enforces our laws against the hiring of undocumented people.
Persons convicted of crimes also have their immigration status checked and violations enforced, as is true of those incarcerated.
But with resources stretched thin as it is, I think it is unrealistic and impractical to ask state police to take on additional responsibilities for enforcing federal laws on top of the state laws they already enforce.
No. Any real solution to immigration problems requires action at the national level. I will push for national immigration reform that is compassionate, fair, and effective. Arizona-style laws are misguided and ineffective, and encourage racial profiling. Such laws should never be considered in Massachusetts, and are unjust anywhere.
Immigration issues urgently need attention. But let's set the record straight: Undocumented immigrants are not the ones who are draining money from our budget and resources from our communities. For the most part, they are hard-working people who our economy depends upon. They do difficult work that keeps many businesses profitable.
Immigrants are not the reason for the shortage of affordable housing or jobs in Massachusetts. Those ills are more the responsibility of the real estate development industry that prefers building luxury condominiums to building affordable housing. They are more the responsibility of the big banks, the predatory lenders, and the corporate schemes to shift jobs offshore.
Before pointing the finger at undocumented immigrants, let's ask for accountability from the big-money politicians who do favor after favor for the wealthy and well-connected while letting our communities deteriorate.
Blaming the powerless people at the bottom of our economy is just a way of diverting attention away from the entrenched insiders who are really calling the shots. If we're ever going to solve our problems, we must reject the demagoguery that encourages infighting among struggling, disempowered groups, and keeps people from working together for justice and security for all.
We must start working together to build a better future for everyone.
Yes. I believe that if the federal government fails to enforce our immigration laws, then the states should have the right to enforce them. Arizona's immigration problems were linked to drug and human trafficking and I can understand the need to immediately deal with those issues.
I believe that state services -- including housing, welfare, in-state higher education tuition and other services -- should be reserved for legal citizens first and foremost. We have long-established immigration programs, and we should not allow people who have ignored those programs to jump ahead of those seeking legal immigration status.
Additionally, I think that we need to better equip our police with resources to deal with illegal immigrants with violent backgrounds. As governor, I will sign the Secure Communities Act that will allow local police departments to help crack down on criminal aliens.
Police officers need every tool possible to protect our citizens from criminals, and this is a sensible measure that would provide greater safety at a time when our streets have been gripped with needless violence.
Without action from the federal government to toughen the country's illegal immigration laws, each state must respond appropriately to the problems created by illegal immigration. The federal lawsuit filed by President Obama to challenge Arizona's law is inappropriate.
Massachusetts is different than Arizona, so I would support putting laws and polices into place to require state agencies to verify the legal status of applicants before providing state benefits.
I would also re-implement the memorandum of understanding that Governor Patrick rescinded allowing the state police to work with federal agencies to enforce immigration laws, and I would sign the Secure Communities agreement that would allow local law enforcement to share information on dangerous criminals who are apprehended with federal immigration officials.
The governor is opposed to all of these efforts.
What steps would you take to promote renewable energy? What would be the key factors that would inform your decision?
I believe firmly that the age of clean energy is here.
For environmental and economic reasons and for reasons of national security, it is critical that we as a nation have energy independence and get alternative energy and energy efficiency right.
We've committed Massachusetts to becoming a leader in this growing area, and invested in our green workforce, creating hundreds of jobs.
Working with private industry, we've grown opportunities for renewable energy companies to work in the Commonwealth, and also advanced several major clean technology projects.
We've built the groundwork for the new economy through a combination of innovative tax and other incentives.
In two years, the new Massachusetts Clean Energy Center has made $9.5 million in investments, resulting in the creation of more than 700 jobs in the next few years.
We have quadrupled the number of solar manufacturing and installation companies, nearly tripling the number of jobs in that area.
In Charlestown, the nation's first Wind Technology Testing Center is under construction, allowing for the assessment of the next generation of wind turbine blades.
We joined the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative in 2007, and helped it become the most successful auction of carbon emissions credits in the country.
Energy efficiency is our first fuel in New England. I am proud of the work that my administration has done improving energy efficiency. Massachusetts now has the most ambitious Energy Efficiency program in the country, which will save $6 billion for businesses and families across the Commonwealth over the next three years.
I am alone among the candidates in this race in supporting Cape Wind, and it is now closer than ever to being realized. I believe Cape Wind is right for Massachusetts from an environmental, energy, and economic point of view. I also think it is a power symbol of the economic hub we are trying to create in the field as we become home to the nation's first-ever off-shore wind farm.
Our economy, our environment, and our national security are imperiled by our addiction to fossil fuels. Clean, renewable energy policy is an urgent priority.
Governor Patrick has treated energy policy as an opportunity for new subsidies to a select group of corporate players willing to donate heavily to his political campaign. And the administration has set leisurely goals that delay achieving significant progress until the year 2040. We don't have that long.
I will dramatically accelerate the state's weatherization and energy efficiency program. At the snail's pace of the current program, it could take us decades to weatherize our housing stock.
Massachusetts is lagging behind many other states in the development of renewable energy. I will push for a real plan - not just a set of weak incentives that hope for the best.
I will develop a plan to achieve 100% renewable electricity in 10 years.
I will make a major investment in the infrastructure needed to support electric vehicles.
I will incorporate sustainability criteria into our zoning and land use laws.
I have called for full disclosure in the Cape Wind contract so we can have wind energy at a price we can afford. With full disclosure and scrutiny, we can be sure the price is right.
To reduce the cost of electricity in general, I will promote the development of community-based utilities, also known as municipal utilities. They often provide energy at 20-40% less cost than the big monopoly utilities (NSTAR, Unitil, National Grid, Western Mass. Electric).
For more than six years, the governor has sat on a bill that would allow cities and towns to start their own municipal utilities. I'll make sure that bill passes.
Finally, I will use conservation and energy efficiency as key components in creating 50,000 green jobs. We can put people to work on every street in every community, building a green, sustainable future for our Commonwealth.
I believe that renewable energy should be a priority for the next governor, so long as those investments do not drive up energy costs to businesses and families. Massachusetts citizens already pay the sixth-highest energy rates per capita in the country, and our efforts should be focused not only on providing clean energy, but also cost-efficient energy.
We must also reauthorize the operating license for the Pilgrim nuclear plant in Plymouth. This one plant provides 11 percent of all the energy in Massachusetts, and we cannot afford to wait any longer to re-license this plant. Nuclear energy must have a place in the future energy portfolio because of its ability to provide cheap, efficient, and clean energy.
We must also consider natural gas. Two-thirds of Massachusetts' energy is generated by natural gas and nuclear power. More than 90 percent of all natural gas consumed in the United States is domestically produced. And of the 10 percent that is imported, 87 percent is imported from Canada. Only about 12 percent of the entire natural gas supply in the United States comes from LNG shipments overseas, more than half of which comes from the Caribbean island nation of Trinidad and Tobago.
Renewable energy is an important investment in the future of our state. Such technology holds the potential to save us money on our electric bills as well as reduce our dependence on foreign oil.
Cutting energy costs is another way to make Massachusetts more affordable for families and businesses. Averaging 15 cents per kilowatt-hour, Massachusetts has the 4th highest electricity costs in the country. States like North Carolina average 9 cents per kilowatt-hour.
We cannot afford to lose more residents and businesses due to our unsustainable energy costs.
We also must be careful about our investments. I am committed to making investments that will lower energy costs, reduce our dependence on non-renewable energy, and create new jobs for Massachusetts.
I will make sure that the projects we support are cost-effective solutions, not sweetheart deals like Cape Wind that will raise the cost of electricity.
List four concrete steps you would take to improve the state's business climate and reduce business costs.
1: Stick to our strategy, because it's working.
Our growth strategy has been based on three things: education, innovation, and infrastructure.
We have invested in education at the highest level in the state's history, and introduced sweeping new reforms to continue our improvement.
We have emphasized innovation industries - the life sciences and biotech, IT, clean and alternative energy - because our concentration of brainpower makes us uniquely competitive in these areas.
And we are rebuilding our public infrastructure because it is the platform for economic growth, and it has been neglected too long.
2: Cut health insurance costs.
This is the single greatest concern of businesses, especially small businesses, and only this administration has done anything about it.
Over the opposition of the other candidates and much of the health insurance industry, we took action to give emergency relief to small businesses and working families by capping health insurance rates for over 750,000 ratepayers. We settled with four insurance companies on lower rates for 90% of ratepayers.
3: Cut red tape.
We cut the average time it takes to get state permits from two years to six months. We have consolidated the number of agencies involved in business development to simplify the ways in which businesses can avail themselves of state incentives. This work must continue.
4: Stop talking ourselves down.
CNBC recently ranked us the fifth-best state in which to do business, higher than we have ever been ranked before.
We cut the business tax rate in my administration, and are now rank 43rd in total business tax burden.
Every single one of the independent rating agencies on Wall Street has publicly complimented our effective management of the state budget through the fiscal crisis.
And we lead the nation in job creation.
Our strategies are working. I believe we should celebrate these accomplishments and build on them to market our success, rather than talk ourselves down.
First, I would undertake a thorough review of the needless tax giveaways to big businesses that are driving small businesses under.
By curtailing business tax giveaways to clients selected for political reasons, we will be able to afford the services that all businesses require for a thriving economy. This includes a workforce educated at high quality schools and colleges, efficient public transportation, affordable health care, affordable housing, and a quality environment with recreational opportunities for all.
Next, I would establish a revolving zero-interest loan fund to jump start or expand green businesses that are locally-owned and integrated into our communities.
Such businesses will be here for the long haul, and won't threaten to move to China if they don't get enough tax breaks. These green jobs pay for themselves as they reduce energy costs and create a healthier environment - thereby reducing the staggering health care bill that's devouring half of our state budget.
Thirdly, I would encourage the founding of a new socially constructive banking system to provide an alternative to the Wall Street enterprises that have been sucking the lifeblood out of Main Street.
By establishing a network of such community-based banks, we can ensure that more of the wealth generated in our Commonwealth is reinvested in our state, creating jobs right here in Massachusetts.
Finally, I would take the enormous cost of providing ever-more-expensive health care off the backs of our businesses. Health insurance should be available to every citizen of the Commonwealth regardless of where they work.
By implementing an improved 'Medicare for All' payment system, we can cut the cost of health insurance by cutting the wasteful health insurance bureaucracy. Such a system helps us further lower costs by negotiating lower pharmaceutical prices.
As governor, I would work to bring down health care costs for businesses, reform the unemployment insurance system, establish an entrepreneurial tax relief program, and reduce sales and corporate taxes.
1. In the health care reform plan I have outlined on my website, I propose to increase competition throughout the insurance and provider markets by allowing consumers to buy insurance across state lines and reforming certificate-of-need laws.
I believe consumers should also have more choice in the health insurance they choose to buy.
Lastly, I am the only candidate who has proposed substantive malpractice reform to deal with rising litigation exposure.
2. When elected, I will immediately freeze unemployment insurance rates to prevent the 40 percent hike that is coming in January. I will also work with the Legislature to reform the system to address the inequities in the system so that the burden is better shared.
3. I have proposed to waive taxes for the first three years of new start-ups. This proposal will help foster a better small business environment and provide immediate relief to the labor market.
4. I have proposed to roll back the sales and corporate income taxes to 5% to lower the overall tax burden on businesses.
1. Reduce taxes! We have to get the sales, income, and corporate tax down to 5%. Once we establish a simple, competitive, and equitable tax system, the business community will view the Commonwealth as a business-friendly state. Until then, we will continue losing businesses to more competitive states.
2. Place a moratorium on all new regulations and conduct a top-to-bottom review of the current regulations in place.
3. Adopt a reasonable and effective statewide energy policy.
4. Work toward reducing the cost of health care for families and small businesses by tackling the true cost drivers.
What role should state government play in addressing inner-city violence? Do you have any specific proposals for dealing with the problem?
Inner-city violence is mainly the responsibility of local authorities, but the state must be an active and constructive partner.
I have seen firsthand the devastation of youth violence, and it is impossible for me to look the other way.
That is why we have worked closely with federal, local, and non-profit organizations on strategies to support youth workers, after-school programs, and summer jobs.
That's why we invest in public schools and can now offer families more options for schools that work best for their kids.
I have proposed legislation to limit the purchase of firearms to one per month in an effort to stem the steady flow of guns to our communities. This bill is aimed at reducing straw purchases of guns and subsequent illicit resale of firearms; it is not aimed at the lawful possession and use of firearms for hunting or sport. Many in law enforcement believe this is an important first step in preventing further gun violence and tragedy in our communities.
We enacted measures to require dangerousness hearings for those arrested for crimes with a gun. We have to intervene where there is a risk of witness intimidation, continuing the cycle of gang violence.
We must put an end to the tragic outbreak of violence that is taking so many innocent lives in the neighborhoods where poverty and hopelessness come together.
This violence is both a disease and a symptom of the neglect of these vulnerable communities. State government needs to make a serious commitment to address the social and economic problems that beset our inner-city communities.
We can't expect our police or our criminal justice systems to stem this violence if we let the conditions that produce it flourish.
The levels of unemployment in the inner city - which approach 25% in some neighborhoods - is unacceptable. We need to start reinvesting in communities that have historically been last in line for jobs and economic expansion.
My initiative to create 50,000 green jobs will aim particularly at inner city neighborhoods that so desperately need these jobs.
We must also fully fund our public schools - including arts, music, and recreation that are important for engaging at-risk youth. We must fund other programs for at-risk youth, including gang violence prevention, after-school programs, and summer jobs.
We need leadership on Beacon Hill that will reject the failing 'neglect and punish' approach and set a new course that recognizes the right of each human being to achieve their full potential, no matter where they live or what their economic circumstance.
State government can take a leadership role in addressing inner-city violence.
The governor has failed to live up to his pledge to put 1,000 new police officers on the street; under his watch, the police force has actually fallen by 1,000. His failure sent a message loud and clear: he was not committed to dealing with crime.
If I am elected, that would immediately change.
I will actively fight to fund training programs for police to better prepare our police force, and I will push to put more police officers on the street.
I will also fund youth jobs programs. When youth have opportunities for employment, they stay off the streets and stay out of trouble. Creating youth jobs will help decrease youth violence and make our inner-city streets safer.
The governor has failed on many promises to make our streets safer in the inner city.
Instead of adding the 1,000 police to our streets as he promised in 2006, there are now fewer police protecting the neighborhoods. This is all a result of local aid cuts and a lack of focus on reform to pay for priorities.
Fighting crime is a fight, and we need to treat it like a fight. The recent violence in city neighborhoods have shown that there is a long ways to go and there is no single answer to this problem, but there are things we need to begin addressing.
The district attorneys who prosecute criminals don't have the resources they need to, and witnesses and potential witnesses are too easily intimidated in courtrooms.
These are all strategies we will pursue in a Baker administration.
A series of recent scandals have fueled voter cynicism. What would you to restore the public trust in government?
Every time there is a scandal on Beacon Hill, it demoralizes the overwhelming number of honest state employees who do their very best to serve the public.
People are hurting and feel disconnected from their government. I think the most important way that we can restore trust in government is by increasing transparency and communication, opening up as much of our work as possible to view and participation by the public.
In order to increase transparency, my administration has worked hard to bring reforms that were only talked about for decades on Beacon Hill.
During this first term, I signed into law four major reform bills, including pension reform that eliminates the most egregious abuses and special perks from the pension system.
I believe it's important for us to make tough calls that serve the best interests of the whole of the Commonwealth, rather than the self-interests of the powerful.
That's why I will not support no-bid contracts for track owners, and insist on a casino bill without that special favor.
That's why I have insisted on civilian flaggers at state construction sites.
That is why I have sought and obtained wage concessions from public employee unions, eliminated thousands of state jobs, and required increased contributions to health insurance costs.
In addition, our campaign is laying the foundation for increased communication with government by empowering voters where they are. Our campaign is a grassroots campaign. Our campaign is about people reaching out to people where they live and work, and inviting them to participate in their government.
I meet with smaller groups of residents in homes, walk the streets in neighborhoods, and participate in radio call-in shows. In each of these encounters, community members are asked to bring questions directly to me. This can be challenging, but is always thought-provoking, and ensures that the issues that are important to Massachusetts residents remain at the forefront of our conversation.
It is essential that we reform the current campaign financing system that is, to be frank, a system of legalized bribery.
As long as money is constantly flowing from those seeking to influence public policy into the hands of politicians, any attempt to 'restore public trust' is an exercise in self-deception. Let's first build a system that deserves trust, and then confidence will return naturally.
A major step forward took place in 1996 when voters passed the Clean Elections Law by a 2-1 margin. But this law was repealed on an unrecorded voice vote by a Legislature that saw personal advantages in sabotaging reform. Since then, the problem of money-driven politics has grown much worse.
As a sign of my commitment to this issue, I am refusing to take money from registered lobbyists or from favor-seeking CEOs who employ such lobbyists.
We need a new commitment to integrity in government, and we need to restore the Clean Elections Law. Only then will the politicians who run our government have a right to ask for our trust.
I plan to enact transparency measures that will open government to the citizens. The current administration has maintained that his office is exempt from the state's Public Records Law, but my administration will comply with the law to the greatest extent possible.
I will also move to bring the Legislature under the purview of the Public Records law.
I will move to publish Statements of Financial Interest online for public reference.
I will initiate a process like one currently in use in California that allows citizens and government employees to report waste online. In California, this program has generated more than 5,000 tips and saved $24.5 million.
I will uphold the state's Open Meeting Law and record and post all meetings online.
My administration will allow residents to access any research, study orders, or other documentation used by the Legislature to influence their decision-making.
I will also post actual state spending online so taxpayers can see how their dollars are being spent and to hold public officials accountable for the budget process.
According to an April 2010 report by MASSPIRG, the state received an 'F' on transparency of government spending. Thirty-two other states provide an online database of government expenditure with 'checkbook-level detail'. Massachusetts would adopt those measures under a Cahill administration.
Voters need to believe that the people on Beacon Hill are playing by the same set of rules as they are, and for the past four years, that hasn't been the case. Corruption on Beacon Hill has eroded the public's trust in their elected officials, and in order to change politics-as-usual, you have to change the players.
Throughout this campaign, I have been discussing the issues that matter to the people of Massachusetts, including how to cut taxes, reform state government, and get our economy moving again by getting people back to work.
Frankly put, the people on Beacon Hill right now aren't getting it done, and another four years isn't going to be any different if we just give them a second chance.
The state is facing another year of financial difficulty. Where will you seek savings? Please be specific.
Our administration has delivered timely, responsible budgets that have sought to incorporate savings and efficient reforms in state government while maintaining our commitment to critical services.
Moving forward, we will continue to look for opportunities to responsibly modernize government services and seek savings.
We reformed the state's pension system, helping to end decades-old abuses and gamesmanship that eroded the public's trust and threatened the system's sustainability. We fought to ensure that these reforms applied to both current and future employees.
We also filed a Phase II pension reform bill that would reform the system and save the state $2 billion over the next 30 years.
We successfully pushed for Massachusetts to join 49 other states in allowing civilian flaggers at state construction sites, saving Massachusetts taxpayers millions of dollars annually.
From transportation reform alone, we're saving $250 million annually.
Moving to help local government reduce costs and maintain essential services for residents, I signed a bill to allow municipalities to take part in the state's cost-effective, high-value health care system. So far, 27 communities, six school districts, and three planning councils have joined, reducing local health care spending by tens of millions of dollars annually.
In the next term, we have to move aggressively to cut health insurance costs, for both state government and the private sector.
We must also move to consolidate more of the human services agencies to provide "one-stop service" to persons in need, and also to manage our costs down.
Throughout government, we must continuously strive to improve service to the public with fewer staffing.
I am the only candidate in this race who has made a commitment to ending the tax giveaways within the $1.6 billion of our tax dollars being spent on 'economic development'.
Many of these giveaways are actually killing jobs or helping corporations expand in other states. The Economic Development Incentive Program approved 1,399 out of 1,400 applications for incentives - some even being granted after the project involved was built. We are still handing out $300 million in the Raytheon and Fidelity special corporate tax breaks for jobs that were never created.
I am also the only candidate in this race who has made a commitment to preventing needless chronic diseases that are a major driver in the enormous health bills that are consuming half of our state budget.
We're going broke treating chronic diseases that are largely preventable. We need to transform our costly 'disease care' system into a real health care system that keeps us healthy and gives us health care we can afford.
We can also save money by streamlining the massive, wasteful health insurance bureaucracy. It currently adds about 10% to the cost of health care.
By moving to a single-payer system, we can drastically reduce the cost of paper work, bloated administration, and high CEO salaries. And we can put health care decisions back into the hands of patients and doctors instead of insurance bureaucrats.
Single-payer also makes it possible to purchase pharmaceuticals and medical devices in bulk and to negotiate better prices - adding to the savings.
I am also committed to doing a thorough review of all government agencies that have been used as patronage havens over the years by both Democratic and Republican administrations.
As the only candidate who has been completely independent of the patronage system, and who is not taking money from patronage hires, I can bring real integrity to the elimination of jobs that are not needed.
My record as treasurer proves my ability to find fiscally responsible solutions to complex problems.
I worked with the Legislature to reform the former school building assistance program that held nearly $11 billion in debt and had no real source of funding. The old system was also highly politicized, where communities with greater power jumped ahead of needier districts. We took the politics out and we saved money.
Now schools are being built cheaper, faster, and debt-free. The process saved cities and towns $3 billion in interest payments alone, and speeding up construction and audits reimbursed those municipalities within two weeks, rather than two years under the old program.
I will apply those same lessons across government.
I believe that transportation spending and investment can be reformed in a similar fashion. A Cahill administration will force state government to approach investment and spending from a local level first and focus on where needs are the highest. We will prioritize our spending and keep a keen eye on the bottom line.
My proposals to fix health care spending will reduce its overall burden on the budget. Making the health care delivery system more competitive will reduce prices and ultimately the overhead cost to taxpayers.
Without implementing serious cost-containment measures, I believe the health care reform law will keep the state's budget in a perpetual deficit.
Each of those reforms will help reduce the overall debt burden and cut interest payments. Massachusetts is last in the nation for debt as a share of revenue, and we have one of the highest ratios of debt per capita of any state in the country. That is a result of budget mismanagement, partisan politics, and politicians pushing off tough decisions to the future.
As treasurer, I never took the easy road, and as governor, I will restore fiscal stewardship to Beacon Hill.
Proposals to save taxpayers roughly $1 billion:
• Eliminate union-only construction projects: Project Labor Agreements add 12% to the cost of projects by limiting them to unions. The unions, however, only make up 20% of the industry. By opening bids to the entire industry, we will be inviting the other 80% to compete and thus lower bids.
• Lower health care costs: Amend state law to allow municipalities to join the state's Group Insurance Commission, and let them alter health plans outside of collective bargaining.
• Pension reform: Taxpayers and future pensioners face an unfunded liability of $22 billion, costing taxpayers $1.1 billion each year just to keep up with that debt. Cap annual pensions at $90,000, increase the retirement age to 60, and eliminate abuse.
• Repeal the Pacheco Law: Massachusetts is the only state that does not allow certain state services to be contracted out to private companies for a cheaper price.
• Consolidate and shrink state government: The state is facing a $2.5 billion structural deficit. We should not be taxing people endlessly to solve this problem while ignoring reforms to the way government does business.
• Reform Medicaid: Enroll those receiving Medicaid benefits into coordinated care health plans.
• Require proof of legal residency for state services: There is no uniform system to verify the legal status of those receiving public housing, unemployment benefits, workers compensation, and welfare.
• Bring welfare reform in line with federal standards: After years of helping move people from welfare to self-sufficiency, during the past 4 years the caseload has risen 11%. We have a separate state-taxpayer-funded system to fund benefits that are more generous than what the federal government pays for. We must bring the work requirements and time limits in line with federal rules, saving roughly $100 million a year. We must also stop welfare cash assistance from being used for things like alcohol, tobacco, and gambling.
Responses gathered through e.thePeople