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

The cost of insuring our families continues to skyrocket.

Being insured no longer means you have adequate health care. High premiums, deductibles, and co-pays have put families in the position of rationing health care and necessary services.

A third of the expense is spent on administrative functions and doesn't do anything to make our population healthier.

While I support the idea of health care reform, neither state nor federal reform measures have addressed cost increases.

While I don't want government to become more involved in most private business, there is a fundamental problem with our health care for-PROFIT system.

During the worst economic times since The Great Depression, the top 5 insurers made $12.2 BILLION in profit. Much of that profit came from dropping 2.7 million sick, elderly, or low-income clients. Where possible, these people were shifted to government programs, unfairly shifting the burden to taxpayers so private companies could make more money.

Insurers, drug companies, and hospitals spent billions trying to stop health reform measures. Many think the money spent to fight reform could have provided health care to most of the uninsured.

Municipalities have the choice of entering the GIC. Designing a health care plan is complicated and far beyond the expertise of local government. Unions may be the only voice working families have to protect them from further unfair increases.

Many retirees are on Medicare. Seniors have been an important part of our community, and we need to ensure they are well cared for.

The reality is that 77% of health care costs are incurred in the last 2 years of life and 40% in the last month. While we have a multi-payer system, these costs should be shared between the government and private sector. Otherwise, taxpayers subsidize the absurd profit margin of industries gouging Americans.

Republican

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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

Increasing the retirement age may be an effective savings tool if sensible measures are implemented.

Factors such as the type of work need to be considered in developing a plan. Not everyone will be physically able to continue working past 65.

Simply shifting the responsibility of saving for retirement to workers is not a solution. We must do more to assure taxpayers that they will not be funding a system riddled with abuse.

Classifications such as "hazardous duty" are designed to protect public safety personnel. Extending that benefit to administrative workers who support certain candidates is the type of abuse that has the public clamoring for change.

The practice of "double dipping" and allowing public employees to retire long before 65 needs to cease.

Capping annual pensions is a possible solution, but addressing the bloated salaries of public employees making more than $100,000 must also be addressed.

The financial industry caused our current fiscal crisis. Seniors are struggling to pay constantly increasing property taxes and the ridiculous cost of prescription drugs. They should not be punished for what the money people did.

Government serves some important functions and the majority of public servants are not the problem. The abuse of the system is the problem and increasing the retirement age and capping pensions will not stop it.

Creating new rules to ensure retired public employees do not go on to have lucrative careers in the private sector benefiting from their connections seems more urgent. Better oversight regarding possible conflict of interest and other ethics violations are needed.

Republican

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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

Education begins long before children enter school. Families are the first teachers, and policies that help support early childhood education are critical to later success in learning.

Evaluation is an important element in the continuous improvement of any system. Our K-12 public education system has systemic issues that need to be corrected.

Education is a good investment and a significant expenditure. We owe it to our youth and to taxpayers to ensure that funds are well spent and our children are well educated.

Everyone learns differently, and the practice of teaching to the test has been a fundamental change. Although there may have been some benefits, I'm not convinced our young people are getting a better education.

Tests should not be the only indicator of learning. Measuring a well-rounded education requires a multi-faceted approach. Improvements require collaborative effort and a commitment to assuring quality public education.

Public officials who send their children to private school raise valid questions about their commitment to prioritizing public education and funding improvements.

If we want to speak to an American when we call for "customer service", we need a well-educated workforce. China and India offer free higher education. We have fallen far behind in college graduation rates. High fees make it difficult for many to attend state universities. Higher education is a good indicator of future health status.

We can pay now or pay later in a myriad of wasteful ways.

Republican

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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

The Legislature needs to set a higher ethical standard. I cannot think of a valid reason for them to be exempted from laws protecting the public's right to information.

That being said, information is posted in a variety of ways and the actual process seems transparent. The bigger issue is what goes on behind closed doors.

It's about the integrity of those we elect to public office. It's about assuring that those we embody with power are deserving of that responsibility. It's about balance and fairness.

It's not about helping your supporters advance their bottom line or making deals that treat public assets as your own. Technology has offered a host of new ways to get public input. No decisions should be made regarding public assets without the public having an opportunity for input.

The media also has a responsibility to inform the public. Most people do not have time to seek public records. We rely on the media to connect the dots for us and objectively report the facts.

Republican

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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

I have always been an Independent choosing to vote for the most qualified candidate. I vote for people who share my values and priorities.

I have stood up to legislative leadership interested in protecting the rights of criminals. Defense attorneys hold a disproportionate amount of power in the Massachusetts Legislature. For nearly 20 years, we have been trying to pass victims' rights legislation without success.

I will fight hard for increased local aid to cities and towns.

There are many of us here in the middle wishing for someone to advocate for us. People are out of work.

Even families who have health insurance cannot afford necessary medical care because of skyrocketing costs. The legislative leadership has done little to address the cost of health care, cap deductibles, or require insurers to provide full coverage. Separating vision, mental health, and dental from our health insurance improves profits, not care.

Someone needs to advocate for US!

Republican

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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

I am happy to share my views on any issue with anyone who is interested.

Many of the questionnaires require only one-word answers. They are not designed objectively, and I would prefer to respond directly to anyone who would like more information about my priorities or where I stand.

Many issues aren't so black and white and require more dialogue than the questionnaire process allows. They all arrived within a couple of weeks with short turnaround times. As a busy mom with a full-time job, I did not have time to draft comments with each answer and meet their deadlines.

I am also open to learning and hearing more about any issue. I believe the ability to change one's mind shows wisdom, not indecisiveness.

Republican

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Legislative audit

Should the Legislature be subject to a full audit?

Democrat

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Independent

Republican

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Formal sessions

Is the Legislature holding enough full formal sessions?

Democrat

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Independent

It is deeply troubling that as every legislative session comes to a close, there is a flurry of activity and fervor to pass certain legislation. Too many important bills die in committee year after year.

Often the bills that make it to the floor are brought forward because of special interests, not our interests. We the public are left to wonder why they are so busy at the end of the session and what went on for months before that.

If they are not voting on every bill that deserves a vote, they are not holding enough formal sessions.

Republican

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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

I believe there are term limits for the Senate President. Eight years seems like enough time for one individual to hold so much power in either branch.

It would be my preference not to legislate this, but the reality is that may be necessary.

Republican

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Responses gathered through e.thePeople