David Gergen, moderator: First question by draw, will go to Deval Patrick and it will come from Frank Phillips from the Boston Globe.
Frank Phillips: Mr. Patrick your opponent Kerry Healey is airing an aid that shows a woman walking to her car in a dark garage and then refers to your support of convicted rapist Ben Leguer. We know what you've said about attack ads so I don't you to repeat that response, but please tell us your personal response to the ad and whether you think there's a racial subtext to the emphasis to images of crime in this campaign.
Deval Patrick: Well Frank, thanks for the question. I will tell you I haven't seen the ad but I've read it. And it's an odd thing because I wonder, and I would ask the folks at home and the folks here, whether we feel less safe because I once complimented the ability of a convicted rapist to write 10 years ago or less safe because the Healey administration is responsible for 700 fewer cops on the beat today. i think we ought to talk about crime. This record of crime in this administration has marked Massachusetts as the most violent state in New England, in the Northeast frankly, ahead of New York and New Jersey That's their legacy. I want to put 1,000 cops on the beat.
Phillips: Some of the most senior Democrats in the state with years of political experience are asking you to respond with your own attack ads so your lead in the polls doesn't collapse. Are you at risk of blowing this election for the Democrats?
Patrick: I'm not going to blow this election. I'm going to win this election the way we built to this point, which is about being about the future, talking about the future, and offering real plans to move us forward. Now we can talk all day about cases 10 or 20 years ago. When it comes to crime I'm the only one up here who's actually sent anyone to prison. I was a federal prosecutor, not a criminologist, a prosecutor. I've made those decisions I've also comforted victims and represented victims, including victims of rape. I understand crime and thanks to the media, frankly, everyone knows its touched my family too. I don't need to be lectured on crime. We'll respond forcefully and firmly, but with dignity because that's how we've built this campaign and that's what the people of Massachusetts deserve.
Gergen: The other candidates now have a chance to respond.
Grace Ross: Um, well I was very concerned about the ads and I think the reason I've been concerned about the ads is because really what we want to know is people's position on what they're going to do about crimes. We've lost yes police on the beat but we've also got a spiraling murder rate among our youth, we have very serious issues going on for battered women who can no longer escape battering. It takes 6 to 8 weeks if you call up a battered women's shelter now and say, you know, I need to get out I just got thrown down the stairs. And that's because we need policies that actually help victims not rhetoric.
Christy Mihos: I'm absolutely just disgusted with 95 percent of the other people here in MA about these negative ads. .. they don't do a darn thing about making our life any easier, about making us any safe, and really as a career criminologist Kerry, I think any care criminologist in the contiguous 48 states would know that there is a relationship between local aid and public safety. Evidently you don't know that because you're administrations cut back local aid over $2 billion these four years so lets get to the real issue here and forget about all this negative ad stuff. It doesn't help the Commonwealth at all.
Kerry Healey: I thank you for the opportunity to respond to this because it's an important issue. First of all there is no racial subtext to that. What there is though, and you asked this question what makes Massachusetts less safe. What makes Massachusetts less safe is when you advocate on behalf of a brutal rapist you've never even met. That's what makes Massachusetts less safe and that is a perfectly reasonable thing to debate, and to talk about in this campaign. And then lets talk about these stats you've been using. I don't know where you're getting them because they're wrong. We actually have 2000 more police on the streets today than we did four years ago. You can look at our FBI stats we have 9 percent fewer violent crimes than we did four years ago. You need to get your numbers right.
Patrick: Let me give you my numbers of a Department of Justice report which is out just today. The FBI is a part of the Department of Justice. The Department of Justice report names Massachusetts as the most violent state in the Northeast, ahead of NJ and NY. You talk to police chiefs and municipalities, which was your job in the administration They tell me about how they've had to cut police from the force all across the Commonwealth because of your fiscal policies. Gun and gang violence is soaring. Guns are coming across our borders in great numbers, and that, that, is the legacy of you administration.
Gergen: We will -- you will have a chance to respond.
Healey: I'm sorry, there are real statistics we should talk about.
Gergen: What I would like to ask is that all candidates be respectful of the time limits and the audience hold their applause. You will have a chance to respond, believe me. Alison King to Grace Ross.
King: Ms. Ross under the new state health care law, starting in July thousands of families with no health insurance will be in for a shock when they realize they're going to have to purchase health care on their own at a cost of nearly $300,000 a year. As governor would you be prepared to enforce this law even if families can't afford it.
Ross: I actually think we need to completely re-frame the law that was passed. People have talked about as a universal coverage and they've talked about it as a plan and it is neither. Not only will those families be shocked about it, so will our small business owners who haven't been able to afford health care for their workers at all when they find out that if they couldn't afford it for their family they're going to be paying to a tune of $3,000 for them, their partner, whatever. ... we'll have to enforce what's been passed until we change it but we need to change it immediately. If I'm in on Jan.3 my plan is first week we['re going to sit down and talk about what real universal health care is -- it contains costs, it covers everybody, and we can afford it for what we're already paying. We spend 39 percent of our health care dollars on non-medical related things and we have to change the system to one that's a real system and works for everybody and contains costs for everybody.
King: Now I know you support a single-payer system. In some countries that use single payer, Canada to name one, there has been more access but quality of care has gone down. Why would you want to emulate a system like that?
Ross: Quality of care for whom? Because Massachusetts there are more than 500,000 of us who are not getting care at all unless we go into an emergency room after we're very sick. That's incredibly expensive. So there is a quality of care for those who can afford it, and there's another level for care for those who can not afford it. And we have spiraling rates of encephalitis going on that have people very concerned. We have meningitis in 14 cases in Framingham this summer. That's unconscionable. So quality of care if you cant get to it doesn't matter.
Gergen: OK we have 30 seconds for each of you to respond.
Healey: If I could please. Just on this very stage just a few months ago the Democratic leadership of this state including Ted Kennedy and the governor came together to sign historic health care reforms. Those reforms for the first time are going to be able to extend coverage to that half million people here in MA who need coverage and for the poorest of the poor that coverage will cost nothing. For those who are between 100 percent and 300 percent of the poverty level we we'll make sure there is a sliding scale in place so that they can afford health care and this will .. this will bring down the cost of health care for everyone because they will be receiving high quality care, preventative care.
Gergen: Mr. Patrick?
Patrick: And right after that glorious ceremony when the bunting came down and the bands went home this administration vetoed the funding mechanism for it. A cynical move. And your campaign lieutenant governor campaigns on the promise of killing that employer assessment once and for all. We made a very good judgement it seems to me choosing between what we thought used to be the only choices available to us -- between a perfect system and no solution at all. we took a step forward. If I have the chance I'm going to implement it from the perspective that health is a public good and get at the high costs.
Mihos: Later on this month the health care connector board is meeting up in Shrewsbury behind closed doors to promulgate the regulations and work forward on this. They got together and last week they found out that this law doesn't cover 80,000 children here in the Commonwealth. Open up the process. Lets see what's going on behind closed doors. The Democrats and Republicans aren't telling you the real cost of this issue and that is going to be, that's going to come down hard on every single one of us when they've mandated that we have to pay for health care and they're not giving us the right number. Open up the process, let us see who's getting greased here.
Gergen: Alright the next number comes from Emily Rooney. Emily Rooney to Lt. Gov. Healey.
Rooney: Ms. Healey, back to the issue of that ad. You say Deval Patrick should be ashamed of himself for saying Ben Leguer is eloquent and thoughtful, but what are we supposed to take away from this ad? That a compliment condones Leguer's actions? Or, if Deval Patrick is elected governor women should fear they're more likely to be raped?
Healey: What you need to do is think about judgement. Think about patterns of behavior, think about the perspective that someone brings to the governor's office. And the perspective that I've brought throughout my life has been working on behalf of the victim and the victim's family. I've worked to pass Melanie's Bill. Melanie's Bill prevented presumably about 17 percent of the homicide that would have happened on our roads as a result of drunk drivers. We've saved lives. I've worked to tighten our sex offender laws, I've worked to tighten our gang laws so there's not witness intimidation to the same extent that there was before this leg was passed. I think DP has the wrong priorities working on behalf of a convicted rapist who brutally raped a grandmother. I think that's the wrong.
Ross: What does the ad say about your style and character? Are you trying to scare women into voting for you through this?
Healey: What I'm trying to say, and I think it's very clear, is there's been a pattern. First when Deval Patrick was asked about his involvement in the Leguer case he said it was 15 years ago, and then he said maybe it was 10 years ago, and then we learned there were two letters written to try to get Ben Leguer prematurely out of jail. Writing to the parole board, asking for his release, on the basis of a correspondence that he said made him believe that this person was humane, and eloquent, but humane? How can a person who's viciously raped a grandmother for eight hours be considered humane? I think it's poor judgement.
Gergen: Mr. Patrick.
Patrick: Well I'll tell you it's right. I have on occasion represented the unsavory defendant. And you better be glad somebody does because that's what puts the justice in the justice system. I don't apologize for that. As I've said before I'm the only one up here who ever actually prosecuted someone. I've sent people to jail, I've made those judgements about the evidence and how to evaluate it. I've also comforted victims, represented victims, been a victim of crime. I understand the whole perspective and the whole range of the criminal justice system. And if you'd come down off that high horse of yours sometime and see how it actually works in the street I'd be happy to show you around.
Gergen: Mr.. (applause). There you go again. Mr. Mihos.
Mihos: You know I thought my ad was a little bit offensive and ... (clapping and cheering) but I got to tell you--
Patrick: Thank god for you.
Mihos: But I've got to tell you I pulled my ads down for two weeks. I wanted you to see this negative ad, this constant bickering going back and forth. This Republican 101 and this Democrat 101. That's who Deval is, that's what Deval does, and you better accept it because that's who he is and he is a liberal and look at this hall -- that's what happened here in this hall. So pull down those ads. Let us see how great this state is going to be, and stop wasting our time.
Gergen: Grace Ross.
Ross: Yeah, I actually think we need to actually address the issues of crime and I have to say you know that I held a press conference yesterday. Unfortunately Christy was away, the rest of you chose not to join me. This, uh, debate over character. Lets talk about the character of leadership. We're supposed to be asking for the votes of the people of Massachusetts to lead all the people of Massachusetts. Not to divide them. Not to create a divide and hope that the people that like us are bigger on our end of the divide. On the other hand you know Deval you know you didn't answer it strongly enough at the time. You know If you're sure that your record is right and actually all of the backing shows that, then you got to stand up and say it clearly and say it immediately and say you know what we're not going there because we have real issues to discuss and if we want to talk about character then lets get out there and talk about the kind of decisions, how they get made, and why and what you stand for because the people of Massachusetts deserve transparency and accountability.
Moderator: Ok, thank you. Now we're going to change the format a bit and go to the free-flowing discussion. I'm going to ask a question- oh I'm sorry, we're not changing the format. Frank?
Phillips: Mr. Mihos, with polls showing you running a distant third, some of your strongest allies during your battles at the Turnpike Authority say that it is time for you to get out of the race, that, in fact, you're serving as a straw for Deval Patrick and draining votes from Kerry Healey. They claim you're merely seeking revenge against her and the Romney administration for not reappointing you to the Turnpike board. Is that true and what do you say to them?
Mihos: It's absolutely and utterly false. What I say to them is this: I'm the only candidate in this race that was born here in Massachusetts. I was born in Brockton, I grew up here, I built a business here, my family's here. I'm not one of these drive-by governors that's just going to just take off. I'm not running for anything else. Frank, this is my home and I care about it and I can't stand to see what the two traditional parties are doing to our state. This is a disgrace- whether it's the Dig, or the way we fund local aid- whether we take care of our elderly or how we deal with this issue of illegal immigration- I'm in this race and I'm at the same poll number that Jesse Ventura was a few years ago when he ran, and he won.
Moderator: Thank you, Mr. Mihos.
Phillips: Well, which candidate- Deval Patrick or Kerry Healey- do you most disagree with and which one would you prefer to be governor if your candidacy fails?
Mihos: Well, Frank, I'm winning. Frank, with all due respect to the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald, I want the people of the Commonwealth to make this decision. It doesn't matter what the editorial pages say. What matter is that we're going to get people that have never voted before are going to come out in record numbers because they love this state too, just like I do.
Healey: Well, Christy, since you were a maxed-out donor to my campaign until early last year, I guess I'll assume that you would have been voting for me.
Mihos: No, no.
Healey: Well then you were throwing your money away.
Mihos: No, I want real change.
Healey: Yeah, well you were throwing your money away then. I will assume that your question is actually why are we in this race. And the reason why I am in this race is because I want to make Massachusetts more affordable for working families and small businesses and I am the only candidate here that has a genuine plan to make Massachusetts more affordable and I will work for it.
Patrick: Well, that wasn't the question I heard, but if we want to answer that question, I'm in the race because I think it's time for a change. I think the current administration has had its chance and with 148,000 fewer jobs and 60,000 people having left the state- 42nd in the nation in job creation, 47th in the nation in spending on public higher education, gun and gang violence soaring- it is time for a change. But we have to be about more than just what's wrong with the current administration. We have to be about a forward-looking plan and that's what I'm offering.
Ross: You know, it's interesting to be asked in different ways, and I'm sure we both get asked this- you know, this is supposed to be a democracy and it's supposed to be a government by and for the people and when those of us who get involved in a race don't have some pedigree or some huge amount of money, that doesn't determine whether we have a right to speak to the people of Massachusetts and have the people of Massachusetts
listen to our solutions. It is interesting to me, Kerry, to hear you say that you're for the working folks because you haven't talked about doing something that's going to help raise funds in the state in a way that goes after the folks that aren't paying now, the folks at the top of the corporations. You're happy to let us carry the burden, not just income tax, but property taxes and excise taxes and fees.
Moderator: All right, now we are going to a slight change in format. I'm going to ask a general question and then the candidates will have a chance to talk among themselves- as if they haven't been doing that already, right? But they'll have a chance to conduct a free-spirited discussion among themselves. By lot, the first question does go to Mr. Patrick. Mr. Patrick, you talked about the need for change. I'd like to ask you sir, about the change in public education. This question: when you were young, you won a scholarship to go off to the Milton Academy. You essentially won a ticket out of poorly-performing public schools to go to a private school where you blossomed and you have a stirring life story. Why sir, then are you so opposed to giving tickets to children who are now in public schools in Massachusetts who might want to go to a charter school or they might want a voucher. Do they deserve tickets out too?
Patrick: Well, I'll tell you, first of all, I'm not opposed to charter schools. I think they have a critical role to play in education reform. We've been on this journey, I think we ought to continue on this journey.
Moderator: Right, but what about the question- there's a lid, as you know, on charter schools. You're opposed to lifting the lid.
Patrick: I'm coming to that and I think we can lift the cap on the number of charter schools, David, when we fix the funding formula, and it's broken right now. What it creates is an unnecessary and I think, unhelpful tension between the families of the kids in district schools- traditional public schools- and the families of kids in charter schools. And it disserves both. It seems to me that if the state is going to support this element of education reform- and I think that's important- then the state has to step up and provide the kind of funding that makes both charter schools and district schools flourish. That's one point. Second point I'd make is, I want the best innovations that come from the best charter schools- and they're not all great, but the best of them- to be imported into the district schools- whatever that takes. And I will tell you, having talked with teachers and parents and kids, frankly, who are in the district schools, and many who are in the charter school movement- they want that collaboration, too. That's a leadership issue.
Ross: Yeah, I think Deval, it's interesting when I hear you say things like that because I've been in many debates with you and that's the first time I've heard you say that maybe someday we'll lift the cap. It's the same thing you did with the MCAS because early on you were saying that you didn't think the MCAS was serving a purpose, and now I hear you say, "I've always been clear that we should have the MCAS exam."
Patrick: I thought you were a better listener.
Ross: I've listened very carefully, Deval.
Healey: I'm hearing the same thing, Grace.
Ross: And I think other people have, too. And in fact. I've had people who were supporters of yours come to me and say that they supported you because of your position on the MCAS and they are very unhappy to see you move, so what I want to say about this is that we have serious education problems- we can focus on the charter schools or we can focus on the vast number of kids who are in our public schools, and that's where our focus needs to be. We need to put the money back into those schools, we need to lift the MCAS as the only promotion and graduation requirement because it's hurting lots of our kids. And we can argue about tenth grade test scores, but the fact of the matter is our drop-out rates match the implementation of that program.
Healey: I haven't had a chance to speak yet, so let me go ahead, please. There are some real difference between the way Deval Patrick would implement changes in our school system, and the things that I think are important. I agree that charter schools are critically important to making sure that kids have a chance. And we've just seen through the MCAS scores that are coming out of some of our underperforming schools for African-American kids and Latino kids, that they are improving at four and five times the rate of the rest of the state because they've had that opportunity- not only to have MCAS, but many are in wonderful charter schools that are addressing the needs of kids in our inner-cities and it is critical that you don't give in to the teachers unions on this issues. I know that the teachers unions don't like charter schools, that they're concerned about the competition, that they're concerned about the funding. But you know what? It is important that we have a competition between our public schools and it's critical that you recognize that charter schools are public schools. Every child has the right- how many kids do you think are on waiting lists right now, Deval, waiting to go to charter schools.
Patrick: A lot.
Healey: 15,000. There are only 17,000 kids in charter schools and there are 15,000 kids out there who are waiting to get in. We need to create those schools. We don't need to be putting up blocks to getting those schools, we need to be promoting them. And you know what? It's all the public's money.
Patrick: First of all, you're right. It is all the public's money, and who wouldn't be on a list for a charter school if we're walking away from the district schools?
Healey: Let's make them all charter schools.
Patrick: What we need to do is make them all sing. What we have to do is make them all sing.
Healey: What's wrong with that? If they're good schools, what's wrong with that?
Ross: You cut the funding for the remedial help for a lot of the folks who are trying to pass the MCAS. You aren't interested into putting money into the schools that serve most of the people of Massachusetts.
Healey: First of all, that's wrong.
Patrick: Well, let me be clear. First, to Grace, our education plans have been out for nearly a year. We've been supporting MCAS all along. My view is that the MCAS is not enough. We ought to be about educating the whole child and not just about success on a standardized test. That's not a complete education. MCAS ought to be a graduation requirement, but it's just one element of how we evaluate the progress of children.
Mihos: Just one issue- when we're starving the local municipalities of funding and teachers are getting laid off, their support services are getting laid off, libraries are being closed in certain parts of the Commonwealth. This administration has taken over $2 billion out of local aid. That's why everybody's lining up to go to charter schools- because you're killing public education in the Commonwealth.
Healey: Christy, charter schools are public education. They're just a better form of public education.
Moderator: Ladies and gentlemen, this is the wonderful thing about a debate and there will be a fourth one, too, so let's move on. But I would like to go to Grace Ross with this question. It's a related question and it goes to this question of change again. This week, the United States celebrated, marked the growth of its population to 300,000,000. Massachusetts is one of the only states in the country that is not growing. In fact, we have this large exodus, we all know, of highly talented people, families- especially young families- leaving the state. How do we stop, how do we reverse the exodus and bring the talent back into the state?
Ross: Right, talk about needing real change. This is an example of real change. People are not leaving just because of the high cost of housing, but because our incomes aren't meeting it. If we were all making lots of money, we wouldn't care that the housing costs are high. So we have two problems that we have to solve. We just got a small increase in the minimum wage. That's great, that's a beginning, but it's only a down payment for the people of Massachusetts. We're going to have folks at the income equivalent of what they got in the 1990s. We need to increase the minimum wage enough so that people are actually over the poverty level working full-time. Let's have some respect for the workers of Massachusetts. If we do that, then we put money into our local economies because people have money to spend- economists tell us that it kicks around seven times if it comes in where people who spend the money locally spend it. Likewise, we've got to do something about small businesses- real change for small businesses like taking the health care costs off of them, helping them pay for their utility expenses, and that's going to bring money back to our communities.
Mihos: Well, certainly people are leaving because they can't afford to live here. This administration has decimated the middle class and now they're going after everybody else. I'm going to protect three industries here in the Commonwealth because they're the three that will never ever leave: higher education, health care, and tourism. They'll never leave. A CEO will take his company out to another state for any kind of tax credit but those three industries- we're going to protect them and then we'll nurture a better commonwealth.
Patrick: First of all, I want to say that the idea of more clustered rental units and starter homes close to transportation- that's the smart growth- a transit-oriented growth is the best idea in my view, that's come out of the current administration, and kudos on you for the concept. You haven't executed enough on it, but the concept is right. Developers tell me they'd do more if the permitting processes were more straight-forward. Local officials say they make it that way because they've been starved of local aid- they connect. We've got to also invest in transportation. But there's another reason why young people leave that is not so well- documented and it has to do with how hard it is to break in and feel welcomed, and feel as though we are an open place, and that is not a program, that is about leadership and I'm going to change that tone.
HEALEY: This isn't rocket science. People are leaving because it's too expensive. We need to make it more affordable here in Massachusetts. How do you do that? You lower taxes. I'm the only one here on this stage that has signed the No New Taxes Pledge. Everyone else here on this stage is going to raise your taxes. If they weren't, they would've told you that. We also need to reform our auto insurance industry. It's too regulated. We need to make that more affordable for good drivers. We need to make Massachusetts more affordable. That's the answer to population loss.
MODERATOR: You'll have one sentence.
PATRICK: Taxes went down with this administration and people still left.
MODERATOR: That's one sentence. Thank you, thank you for that one sentence. Allison has the next question to Kerry Healey.
ALLISON: Ms. Healey, in his frequent out-of-state travel. Governor Romney has often made Massachusetts the butt of jokes. These are comments that many feel have not only disparaged the state but may also hurt the state's ability to attract business and new citizens. Would you take this opportunity to publicly criticize Governor Romney for the potential harm he's done to the state and would you call on the governor to cease and desist?
HEALEY: Let me just say that I love Massachusetts. I love it in a way that someone who chooses their state loves it. And I came here back when I was going to college. I had the great opportunity to come here to go to college and I have to say that it impressed me as a place that has fantastic history looking at this hall. You can see and feel the history of this state. It has families where generation after generation live in the same town, stay together. I love Massachusetts. I'm going to work to make it a better place and I will never criticize it.
ALLISON: And would you call on the governor to cease and desist.
HEALEY: I think he's probably heard your message loud and clear.
MODERATOR: Brief responses.
ROSS: And if it's about getting big businesses here and stuff like that, then there are plenty of tax breaks for folks, but when you want to accuse us of not signing some No New Tax Pledge, taxes have gone through the roof under your administration. Property taxes are up 42%. So no new taxes when it's for the taxes you're not going to take responsibility for, but the rest of us get to pay for the rest of it.
MODERATOR: Deval Patrick.
PATRICK: The governor is using us as the brunt of his jokes all over the country and has hurt. And that's the sad thing, and that's part of what has to change. He came to office saying that he would sell Massachusetts; he would be the chief booster. I've seen that in my business career. I've seen that that can work, but it's not going to work this way. It will work if I give it a chance.
MODERATOR: Thank you. Emily Rooney to Deval Patrick.
ROONEY: Mr. Patrick, you have promised voters that as governor, you will cut property taxes, but independent fiscal experts say that your plan is totally unrealistic, that local aid you are promising back to cities and towns will go to restore cuts in services that were made a while back. So aren't you really making a false promise to the citizens of Massachusetts?
PATRICK: No, I'm not making a false promise. I think for starters, we expand the senior circuit breaker and the senior exemption to get direct and immediate relief to those on fixed incomes, older adults, from property taxes. I've also called for eliminating those nuisance fees at schools, which is something on which Christy and I agree. The fee to play on a football team or join the math club. Those two programs together are $34 million from the extracurriculars - excuse me $40 million for the senior circuit breaker and the exemption. I think we can raise that to $100 million and then I would commission a portion of the return of local aid on property tax relief. I think that's the kind of partnership we have to rebuild.
ROONEY: But you have to admit there is no guarantee that the cities and towns are going to put that money back toward property relief.
PATRICK: Then they won't get the money. That's what I'm talking about conditioning the restoration of the traditional local aid. That's got to be the quid pro quo. Not if we do it just dollar for dollar, we don't anything. We don't deal with all the unmet needs at the local level, but we do have to do it, it seems to me, a portion of what is returned in exchange for a promise both as they enjoy better planning and that we get direct property tax relief.
MODERATOR: Christy Mihos.
MIHOS: Deval, the issue I've really had a problem with together because for the 30 to 40 times we've debated, we've gone to candidate forums, is that you're just offering illusions. I want to hear real numbers. I'm a business person, all right? I want to hear real plans, real numbers, not any sweet nothings about my plan put 40 percent of state revenues back to the cities and towns and let them spend it the way the want it. I just want to hear for once a real number and not any sweet nothings in my hear all the time
ROSS: To continue on that, you know, if we are really concerned about property tax, I think instead of trying to beat up the cities and towns that I think you know if you watch them, they're feeling pretty beat up already. The issue here is that we've got a long-term policy that has lead us to this place. If you want a circuit breaker for seniors, what about just a circuit breaker based on the amount of property tax that folks are paying? That covers everyone. We'd also get into a fight, which have actually property taxes different amounts, making it very complicated to figure out a tax matter, and then let's raise money from the folks who are paying half per dollar than the folks on the bottom are paying because property taxes, because of other things like that. We've got to restructure our taxes until we have the money. And Christy's right. We want to know where the money's coming in.
MODERATOR: Thank you very much.
HEALEY: Can I get to answer this one, please?
HEALEY: Yes, thank you. For once, I agree with The Boston Globe. Yesterday, The Boston Globe said very clearly the Deval Patrick has no plan to lower property taxes. We all agree that we need to take pressure off of property taxes, but you don't have a plan and you still don't have a plan today. I have a very clear plan that I've outlined to take pressure off of local revenues, first of all be reforming our pension system and putting $200 million back into the local economy and also by allowing cities and towns to buy their healthcare insurance through our group insurance commission, again, giving them tens of millions of dollars.
MODERATOR: Thank you.
PATRICK: OK, if we're quoting The Boston Globe, let's be clear: The Globe says that you have a plan to raise property tax. That's what will be the result of the income tax program.
HEALEY: That wasn't -
PATRICK: I will also say that the 40 percent of total state revenues returned to cities and towns is a wise, sensible target but going there in one step, even the Massachusetts Taxpayers Association says it's unwise.
MODERATOR: OK, thank you. We're going to move on. OK, Frank Phillips to Grace Ross.
PHILLIPS: Ms. Ross, when you say 60 percent of Massachusetts is in recession, but your critics would argue that the programs you want to implement would create even worse economic problems and hardship, doubling the minimum wage, raising $3 billion in new taxes, going to a single-payer healthcare system that Vermont rejected because of its cost. Are these politically realistic plans?
ROSS: They're absolutely realistic. The $3 billion that you're quoting, anybody who's been paying attention, has to do with the fact that if we ask the folks at the top to pay the same amount that the rest of us have been paying for a while, that comes out to about $3 billion. So I'm not talking about raising money on those of us who aren't making ends meet already. I'm talking about folks who haven't been paying their fair share for a while and I have plenty of folks with money who believe they should be paying their fair share, too. So there's nothing unreasonable about saying that we shouldn't get choked more than they do. The second thing you asked about - increasing the minimum wage - you phase it in over time. All of the studies show that that helps local businesses in the long run. We phase it in at a reasonable pace and we will all have the money we'll need and we'll deal with single-payer later.
MODERATOR: He's going to ask you a follow-up.
PHILLIPS: Well just to take your - which is a doubling of the minimum wage and labor costs alone, small businesses would say, that that doubling it would force them to shut down and lay off all their workforce. Is that good economic policy?
ROSS: If you actually what the economists tell us, there is a way to do it. So yes, we've all been taught that rhetoric. So was I. And wasn't I surprised when I actually went and did the research and found out that every state, the higher their minimum wage is, the better small business do. Over time, when minimum wages go up, small businesses do better. Why? It's a no-brainer. Because who's spending their money locally? Local people are. Who is it who needs that increase in their income to have money to spend? Local folks. If I'm competing against a Wal-Mart and their paying their workers as close to minimum wage as possible and I can pay my workers more than that and I do, then I am having unfair competition with the folks with the most money in business.
MODERATOR: Thank you. Each one of you now has about a 20 second response to this item.
MIHOS: Look, if you compete with Wal-Mart and you're paying minimum wage worker $16 an hour, you're out of business.
ROSS: No, Wal-Mart has to go up too.
MIHOS: I run a small business. But Wal-Mart will never go up. I run a small business. I'm a small businessperson and I'm the only one here that's ever created a private-sector job of growth. A private sector business. It can't be done, it can't be done. There's 350,000 of us small businessmen in the Commonwealth and the way this government works, it would not motivate the state. And that's why so many of them are shuttering their doors and they're leaving.
PATRICK: I've heard Christy say so in so many contexts that he's the only one who's created private sector jobs. I have too.
HEALEY: So have I. Really?
PATRICK: That's what we do at Coca-Cola and Texaco. What I was saying though, that everybody up here has a few good ideas. There's varying price tags on them. What we need to do is start governing for the long-term and not just short-term political gimmicks and slogans. Yes, we must first have economic growth. We have to expand economic opportunity. That's what enables the rest of it. And we have, in our campaign, specific ideas about how we stimulate that economy to make the rest of this possible.
HEALEY: But let's talk about the price tags on your proposals, Deval, because I think this is a critical issue in this debate. Conservatively, we have calculated $8 billino in new spending that you have proposed over the course of your time here. That dwarfs the $3 billion down at the end of the line here. And the question is how do you get there? How do you? Our whole budget is $25 billion. If you want to spend $8 million more on things that the special interests have had you promise them because they now back you, I want to know where that money's going to come from. It's going to come from raising taxes and you should just be honest about it. You are liberal. You should just come out and say I'm going to raise taxes. You think you can spend your way to prosperity.
MODERATOR: Here's the deal, we're probably not going to be able to do the last full round, but I do want you get a chance to respond to this. We're into something very important. Let's be fair. You get a very brief response, you get a very brief response.
PATRICK: First of all, Lieutenant Governor, let me say I wish you would read our proposals instead of just the right wing Republican playbook, because I am talking about -
HEALEY: Your proposals? I read them all.
PATRICK: I am talking about how we simplify permitting to make businesses get in the business and stay in business. We agree on this.
HEALEY: Great, so do it.
PATRICK: And I'm talking about how we cultivate industry here in Massachusetts around alternative and renewable energy, growing the economy, creating jobs. I'm talking about taking the time to work in different programs that make a difference in people's lives. A thousand cops on the beat make a difference in public safety. You think it's a bad idea? Say so.
HEALEY: I don't think it's a bad idea. I just think you can't pay for all of the things you have proposed.
PATRICK: We can't pay for any of yours.
HEALEY: -- and say spend on this or spend on that, but you are saying spend on everything.
PATRICK: No, that's wrong. That is wrong. I've have said it over and over again.
MODERATOR: Very brief.
PATRICK: We cannot do it without growing the economy. I've been as clear as possible about that.
MODERATOR: Thank you, thank you both.
ROSS: The two of you both have very expensive proposals and quite honestly, Lieutenant Governor, I don't see how you're paying for yours either if you're not doing anything with taxes. So let me say one other thing and that's about where the omoney comes from.
ROSS: We spend a billion dollars on saving deals for larger corporations, low taxes, low costs on the property that we give them. So take that billion, let's put them into the small businesses so that folks can afford an increase in the wages as we work our way up so that they can afford renewable energy, that they own the self solar panels.
MODERATOR: Thank you very much. We're going to go to Allison King.
KING: Mr. Mihos, yesterday Kerry Healey announced plans to take down the Mass Pike tolls from Route 128 westward. You called the plan a "bald political ploy" though you proposed a similar plan back in 2003. Meanwhile, a non-partisan commission recently concluded that the state can't adequately fund its highways and other transportation infrastructure with not only raising the gas tax but also adding tolls to the turnpike. Given that, aren't both you and Healey grandstanding on this issue?
PATRICK: Well let's put it this way, Allison. I put off my plan three years ago and everybody, including the governor at the time, thought it was a great plan. And it finally made good on the promise to take down the tolls when the bond were paid off. My plans was to sell the 11 service area plazas to the state pension system, pay off the bonds and take down the tolls. This board yesterday wrote it in principle to look at this thing after they've examined the legal, financial and contractual obligations. What board in the post-Enron WorldCom era would ever do anything like that without knowing on what they were voting for? It was a political ploy because Mitt Romney and his -
MODERATOR: Thank you, thank you very much.
KING: and how would you plan to make up that $114 million in lost revenue?
PATRICK: What $114 million are you talking about?
KING: The toll money that wouldn't come in once you took the tolls down.
PATRICK: The federal government asks you to take down tolls. They let you get the gas tax at that point. The people in MetroWest, Central Mass. and Western Mass., they've paid for that road almost twice. Let's just make good on the promise and take down the tolls. I just don't think that knew what they were doing three weeks before an election. It was a political stunt.
KING: What about that $114 million that you need to -
MIHOS: No, actually, it's $140 million. It's even better than that for them. So you go into the gas tax and you pay for the road with that. But if he has come illusion on some of his plans, Kerry Healey, what she was doing without knowing what they were voting for, that's a real illusion and they'll never see those tolls come down.
ROSS: You know, we were all of us, asked just a few weeks ago about our position on gas tax and on the tolls and on changing the responsible party on the roads in the west part of the state from Mass Highways to the Turnpike Authority, because the Turnpike Authority had a way to raise revenue. And I think that at least the three of us said no to the gas tax. So I don't know where you're going to come down.
PATRICK: No, I said no to increasing it nine cents. That's more than $70 million a year.
ROSS: My point is then of course then, a suggestion coming from the administration that's opposite from the very report we were asked to respond to just two weeks ago has to be about politics. I don't know which way it plays. But the point is that we have to have real policies and we'd like to know where the money is coming from.
MODERATOR: Thank you. Mrs. Healey.
HEALEY: First of all, this is not a political ploy in any way and I'll tell you why: because this is the first time our administration has been able to dig in and see the finances of the Turnpike Authority and see clearly that we are simply collecting those tolls to pay toll takers. That's all we're doing out in Western Mass. And we need to take down those polls. And you're right - people out in Western Mass. have paid for that highway again and again and again. And that is a little piece of highway - 100 miles out of some 3,000 in all of Massachusetts that should be taken care of by all the people in Massachusetts. We have the money to pay off the debt that is on the western tolls, take down the tolls all the way from Weston to the New York border and we will do that and we are organizing to do that right now and don't act like this is a if. It is a certainty because we control that board now and we will do it.
MODERATOR: Mr. Patrick.
PATRICK: Well if we can do this, we should. But there have been so many hollow promises from your administration, Lieutenant Governor, that it's very hard for me to accept another one. And here it comes three weeks before the election. Listen, roads don't plow themselves. They don't repair themselves. If there is a way to do this, we ought to do it and I will look at it seriously. But it's very, very questionable coming as it does just on the eve of the election.
MODERATOR: Let me stop you. I want to ask you. We've got about two minutes for closing statements. I'd like each of you to give me 30 seconds. We've gone all over the lot in a lot of different issues. In 30 seconds, can you tell us at the end of four years what your top three priorities would have been, the top three things you're trying to accomplish as governor. Grace Ross, 30 seconds.
ROSS: Local economic development that I've already talked about. Increasing minimum wage, small business. Second, we are going to deal with healthcare and we can afford it and the study by the state itself by a fairly conservative branch of research showed with 39 cents on the dollar, not on administration but on healthcare and cover everybody. And the third issue is the environment. We have to ask now. All the statistics are coming in.
MODERATOR: Save the time for your closing statement. Mr. Mihos.
MIHOS: Thank you, David. If you look at my Web site Christy2006.com, click on Christy's Proposition One. I'm going to get that through and we're going to get some real, real aid back to the cities and towns so you don't have to live with these incredibly difficult property taxes. The other issue -
MODERATOR: You've got just five seconds.
MIHOS: The other issue, I'm going to protect higher education, healthcare and tourism. Those are the only three industries that will never leave the Commonwealth.
MODERATOR: Mr. Patrick.
PATRICK: A thriving and expanding economy based in large measure on a new industry or on alternative and renewable energy. Education that is characterized by all-day kindergarten and a longer school day with after-school and enrichment program and a healthcare implementation of the new healthcare reform that really provides affordable and accessible healthcare to every man, woman and child in the Commonwealth.
MODERATOR: Thank you. Mrs. Healey.
HEALEY: Now I would urge everyone to go to my website and see the 50-point plan that I have and that will tell you exactly where I would like to lead Massachusetts. I have details and they're all out there to see. My three top priorities are to make Massachusetts more affordable for working families and small businesses, to make our schools not just the best in the nation, which they are today, but among the best in the world, and finally, I want our streets to be safe and our schools to be safe.
MODERATOR: Thank you. Thank you all very much. We've come to the closing statements. Mr. Mihos.
MIHOS: Thank you all and I really do appreciate being in the wonderful hall. Massachusetts desperately need change and on Nov. 7, you have an opportunity to send them a message up on Beacon Hill. I love this state. I'll always live here and I have real solutions to fix the problems here in the Commonwealth. Some of you question if you would vote for me. Some of you wonder can I win. I just ask you to remember back to the Boston Red Sox in 2004. They were down three games to nothing to the New York Yankees. Everybody said it couldn't be done. But they believed. We all believed. And they did it. They put it together and they won. They reversed the curse. I ask you again, believe in me and believe in some of my plans to make Massachusetts better. I will never, ever let you down. Thank you.
MODERATOR: Grace Ross.
ROSS: Well I hope that the voters of Massachusetts, you folks out there, are getting a feel for what your next four years could be like. I have to get out there and ask folks out there, the Lieutenant Governor and Deval Patrick to take a look at what the ads are doing to our debate. And that happened because people seem to have forgotten that what we're asking your vote for is to govern Massachusetts, all of the people of Massachusetts. We don't divide the people. We are clear about what we stand for and what we can be held accountable for and what transparency looks like. Hold me accountable for all our futures. If I get this job in January, I will make sure you keep your job, you keep your home and we continue to have a healthy economy in the place as it is and we build a healthy economy where we need it so that we all have a home and a job.
MODERATOR: Thank you.
HEALEY: First of all, thank you for hosting this debate. It was really a wonderful opportunity to here in this historic room and speak about things that matter. Deval Patrick and I have some things in common. We both support choice, we both support stem cell research and we both will be making history if either of us manage to become governor on Nov. 7 and that's something to be celebrated. But there are real differences between us both. I support lower taxes. Deval Patrick won't commit to that. He won't sign the No New Taxes Pledge. Again, giving driver's licenses to illegal immigrants and also in-state tuition to illegal immigrants. Deval Patrick supports both of those issues. And I would like, at this point, to say it would be wonderful if we could have a one-on-one debate, an extended discussion of those issues just between Deval Patrick and I.
MODERATOR: Thank you. Mr. Patrick.
PATRICK: Let me also thank - is it my turn?
PATRICK: Let me also thank the organizers and you, David, for moderating and everyone for being here and for the folks at home for tuning in. We have a choice to make and it is between the same old, same old or real change, change that's about a more positive, more forward-looking vision for our future. And I will say that part of that change has got to be a different way of respecting all of the people of Massachusetts. I'm not looking to divide anybody. I want everybody to have a place at the table. And respect is shown, it seems to me, in all kinds of ways, including by including all of the candidates in all of the public discourse. So there is a difference there as well. Massachusetts has given me extraordinary opportunities and I'm just trying to repay that by helping to stimulate our economy, by helping to expand influence in public education, by helping to get real healthcare reform. I ask for your help, your prayers and your vote. Thank you.