Health costs

The Mass. Taxpayers Foundation recently recommended that local officials be given the power to design their own health plans without having to negotiate with the unions, and that state retirees use Medicare for their primary health care coverage. Do you support these proposals?

Democrat

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Independent

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Republican

Yes, I do.

Further, there is no reason that the cities, towns, and districts should have been abandoned by the state government in all manner of cost savings. Pooling of resources is a good idea when the result is that economy of scale, so often discussed, can be leveraged to reduce costs.

This sense of elitism must be stopped. I wish to bring to your attention Articles V, VI, and VII of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which specifically empower the people to change government and by extension of that sentiment, prohibit government from changing the people.

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State pensions

The foundation also proposed changes in state and municipal pensions, such as increasing the retirement age and capping annual pensions at $100,000. Do you agree?

Democrat

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Independent

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Republican

One pension, disbursed at federal Social Security age limits, with reductions in benefits patterned after that agency's policies.

Terminating the unfair advantage which results in either the increase for work not performed in one job against another, as well as the whole nonsense of multiple pensions for multiple careers.

I would suggest turning over the entirety of state and municipal pensions to Social Security except for two reasons:

First, the Social Security system may soon vanish, and it therefore becomes imperative to resolve the issue 'in-house'.

Second, doing so would reduce the size of the General Fund and therefore reduce the interest earned on accounts as well as the float wherever it may occur.

Capping is a good idea, especially in consideration of multiple pensions and not wishing to further speculate, it seems prudent to offer a buyout with a deadline that will benefit the pensioner to the extent that they and all current employees become responsible for themselves by managing their own retirement plans.

The matter of grandfathering comes to light in this argument, but that is a matter for the courts where there should be far less stomach given the conditions the one-party policies have brought to the lips of every citizen in the state.

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MCAS

Do you believe in keeping the requirement that a student must pass the MCAS or an MCAS-like test in order to graduate from high school?

Democrat

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Independent

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Republican

MCAS is expensive and unnecessary.

One less test would provide an instant savings nearing $20 million annually PLUS the untold sums wasted in argument and breath over the accountability it provides.

It is that word 'accountability' that is often bandied about by educators who refuse to use it with regard to the job they do or should do.

It is true that there is a certain lack of parental responsibility with respect to minor, school-aged children which places lawmakers squarely in the sights of both groups when they wish to lay blame.

However, it is unfair to use a broad brush for either of them, but there is ample room to improve on both parts, or so it would seem.

It is not government's job to do anything more than provide the means by which an education is possible. The choice is left to the student regardless of venue when it comes to performance or excellence.

An MCAS requirement for graduation is as absurd today as it was when first proposed. The number of students passing MCAS is in no way related to anything that resembles anything more than dumbing down both the curricula and the test.

So, just in case you missed it, the governor prodded the state Board of Education to concede the Massachusetts curriculum, par excellence, in favor of the Common Core which favors students elsewhere.

These lines from Article III of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts guarantee us the rights and what is ignored as school choice:

"...And all moneys paid by the subject to the support of public worship, and of the public teachers aforesaid, shall, if he require it, be uniformly applied to the support of the public teacher or teachers of his own religious sect or denomination, provided there be any on whose instructions he attends; otherwise it may be paid towards the support of the teacher or teachers of the parish or precinct in which the said moneys are raised."

They should not, and cannot, be construed to be a 'church and state' issue.

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Public records

Should the state Legislature be exempt from the state's public records law?

Democrat

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Independent

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Party leadership

Cite any votes (if an incumbent) or positions (if a challenger or newcomer) you have taken that disagree with the stance taken by your party's legislative leadership.

Democrat

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Independent

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Republican

The attempt here to punctuate the ability of any candidate to stand on his or her own two feet, nose-to-nose and toes-to-toes with the party leadership, is well noted.

However, as a Republican, I am little burdened with this anomaly as it does not exist. Commonly, we the people of the Commonwealth have witnessed a Republican executive branch facing one after another veto override for the business as usual Democrat House and Senate.

Bill after bill and tax after tax has zipped past every governor's desk and now with the tacit resistance, all of it for show and none of it for us, comes complete and utter control of both the House and Senate with a Democrat pretending in the executive seat.

This sentiment, as horrid as it sounds, has been displayed before the nation and we do not like it.

I do not like it. My neighbors do not like it. Legal immigrants do not like it and it has got to stop and that it shall with vigorous voter turnout in November.

As to the question, there is only one bill supported by few of the Republicans in power at any capacity in Massachusetts and my disagreement shall serve notice. That bill is the Mass Health bill, which requires the purchase of a product, demands commerce, eliminates choice, imposes a fine, is cost uncontrollable, and once again cedes power of the people to a private, special interest that has neither standing in the Commonwealth or in the United States of America.

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Endorsements

Will you make public any questionnaires you fill out in pursuit of the endorsement of unions or other groups?

Democrat

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Independent

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Republican

Yes and in summary, I'd like to suggest that you must not be surprised that the solutions sought by powerful unions represented in some questionnaires are all the same. They require that we spend more money or they require we spend more money on them and their special interests.

There are those who seek to retain and support the rights we have guaranteed in the Constitutions of the United States and Commonwealth of Massachusetts and nearly all of them suggest we could save money in so doing.

Funny how that works out. Save money by sticking to our creeds and have more to spend on those who believe they need more. I'm shocked! I intend to post them on my website in the coming weeks.

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Legislative audit

Should the Legislature be subject to a full audit?

Democrat

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Independent

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Republican

Yes, why not?

You should pardon me for suggesting that the public might get annoyed at a public display of the waste, fraud, and abuse. If charity begins at home, well, then it stands to reason that waste, fraud, and abuse start there as well. Another cliché that you might consider is 'What is good for the goose is good for the gander'.

Indeed, the government at all levels is empowered to do our bidding, but often that becomes a gray area in which definition is lacking specificity. In fact, it is only gray when it comes to the Legislature while the rest of the rules seem written to protect them from us.

Imagine that.

I support total transparency and I do not mean to suggest that stops with it being public record that is obtainable only by using high explosives to crack the safe in which is stored the tools necessary to break the grip on public information.

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Formal sessions

Is the Legislature holding enough full formal sessions?

Democrat

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Independent

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Republican

If what is meant by 'full formal sessions' is to imply an eight-hour day or a full working day, then the answer is no.

However, there is much work done in committee which can often extend into the late evenings, nights, and weekends which are supposed to even out the true number of hours or sessions.

Some may call it busy work, but when the public is made aware of a weakness in the code or law, or a loophole in the same, then it is the job of the Legislature to close that loop and seek the fair and equal application of any law to all persons.

One reason that may be given as excuse for this is a Latin statement: Stare decisis, which is otherwise known as 'leave well enough alone'. In fact, if it has been settled, then by all means 'leave the sleeping dog lie' and do not awaken it for it may indeed bite.

I'm sharpening my teeth for the next legislative session as there are a great number of things now done that shouldn't have been done in the manner by which every legislator since has been quite happy to have left well enough alone.

On the campaign trail, I have heard many of them. There are many more, I'm certain, so while the call to arms in this election year is 'Jobs, Spending, Taxes, and Health Care', I am doing my best to take copious notes of the voice of the people, who it seems have not been heard by many accounts until now.

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Term limits

Should there be term limits for the jobs of House Speaker and Senate President?

Democrat

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Independent

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Republican

There are such limits in the law and perhaps it is too long for most.

Generally, it is a seniority issue, by party affiliation, tenure, and of course, age, but those rules are used in the absence of the Senate President or Speaker during formal sessions so-called and such absence excused or otherwise.

In the state Senate, the limit is eight years, which only seems reasonable when the people vote in great numbers to upset, maintain, or restore the balance of power. I might suggest that this limit be reduced to four years as it complements my position on the excerpt from Articles V, VI and VII of the Constitution of the Commonwealth as they pertain to the people's rights to power and the sense of elitism that is all too pervasive.

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Responses gathered through e.thePeople