"I want to continue to fight for creating new jobs, universal health care, improving public education, protecting the environment, and taking on corporate special interests to improve the quality of life for all Massachusetts residents."
— Submitted by the candidate
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?
"I do not support the first proposal because I believe that teachers, police officers, firefighters, and other municipal employees should have a seat at the table when dealing with something as important as health care benefits.
As the Senate chair of the Joint Committee of Municipalities and Regional Government, and the co-author of the Municipal Relief Act, I worked very hard this year to reach a compromise on municipal health insurance that would have lowered health care costs for cities and towns, allowing money to be saved that could be dedicated to delivering municipal services or public education, while also protecting collective bargaining rights for public sector workers.
However, the compromise that passed the state Senate twice did not make it through the House of Representatives.
On the matter of placing all public retirees into Medicare: yes, I do support this, and this provision was in the original Municipal Relief Act that I co-authored. I will continue to fight for this provision in the next legislative session."
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?
"I supported and voted for the changes in the Legislature's pension reform bill this session, but would need more information on the benefits and disadvantages of increasing the retirement age.
I would not support capping annual pensions at $100,000 because I believe the figure is arbitrary, and I'm concerned that would be a disincentive to get the most qualified persons to work for state government, but I did support the changes in the pension reform bill that was signed into law this year."
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?
"I support the requirement that a student must pass the MCAS to graduate from high school, but believe that the current MCAS exam is too simplistic and not what was anticipated when the Education Reform Act passed in 1993.
I think that the test needs to be more comprehensive, as I am deeply concerned that the MCAS has caused public school districts and teachers are just focused on "teaching to the test.""
Should the state Legislature be exempt from the state's public records law?
"I believe that the Legislature should be more accountable to the state's public records law, and would support changes to open up meetings such as conference committees, making the votes on bills in committes public, and providing public access to legislative correspondence and electronic communications.
As the leader in the fight to make government more transparent, including fighting for the strongest ethics reform legislation during this session, making refundable tax credits to companies public, and putting the state's budget online, I will continue to make state government, including the Massachusetts Legislature, more accountable and transparent to the general public."
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.
"I have been an independent Democrat since I was first elected to the Massachusetts Legislature as the state's first Clean Elections candidate elected in Massachusetts history, and showed my independence by casting my first vote as a legislator against Thomas Finneran as Speaker of the House.
As a senator, I opposed the casino bill because I believe that expanding gambling in Massachusetts would hurt small businesses, hurt communities, and increase crime and social problems throughout the state."
Will you make public any questionnaires you fill out in pursuit of the endorsement of unions or other groups?
Should the Legislature be subject to a full audit?
"Yes, including making public how the House of Representatives and the Senate use their legislative accounts. This is extremely important to help restore the public's faith in its government."
Is the Legislature holding enough full formal sessions?
"No, I think that the Senate needs to have more formal sessions so that we can pass legislation such as the paid sick leave bill, fair taxation to better fund public education, universal health care, safer alternatives bill, establishing innovative programs to reduce poverty and help the poor have a better quality of life, and expanding civil rights for the LBGT community."
Should there be term limits for the jobs of House Speaker and Senate President?
"Yes, I believe that both positions should have a term limit of 10 years, in order to reduce the concentration of power in the legislative leadership."