"Even during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, we've worked hard to invest in our communities and in our people in all regions of the state.
As a result, Massachusetts is emerging from the recession faster and stronger than most states. Our efforts have led to 60,000 new jobs in Massachusetts this year alone. But we can't stop until everyone who wants to work can work.
I am running for a second term to help Governor Patrick finish what we started in the areas of job creation, making health care more accessible and affordable, and increasing educational opportunities for all children.
We've worked hard to implement real change, and passed reforms that have been talked about for decades.
We've committed to historic investments in transportation and infrastructure across the state to begin fixing roads, rails, and bridges that were devastated by Big Dig mismanagement and decades of neglect so that all regions share in our economic recovery.
The second term will be about finishing the job and fulfilling our commitment to generational responsibility - that is, to leaving Massachusetts better off for our children and grandchildren."
— Submitted by the candidate
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. Governor Patrick and I have been clear that we support the development of destination resort casinos in Massachusetts, awarded through an open and transparent bidding process."
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?
"As a former mayor of Worcester, I have worked hard to improve the partnership between the state and municipalities because that's key to providing important public services that are delivered on the local level.
Governor Patrick and I put forward dozens of cost-savings proposals in our two Municipal Partnership bills, and I am pleased that many were adopted in the Municipal Partnership Act. For example, cities and towns across Massachusetts are now able to access health insurance through the Group Insurance Commission, saving millions of dollars.
The truth is, because of some new tools we've given cities and towns, because of belt-tightening at the local level, and our commitment to maintaining local aid, for the first time in 20 years and amid a global economic recession, property tax increases under the Patrick-Murray administration went down three years in a row.
We have also been working to implement some of the recommendations of the Readiness Finance Commission, which proposed a series of cost-saving proposals in early education, K-12, and higher education. We have instituted a group-purchasing plan for health care across our public higher education sector, providing students with real savings, and there are benefits for school districts in approaches like this. We are also examining ways to drive down special education costs and to maximize federal reimbursement for Medicaid-eligible students."
What is the single most important challenge facing the state's education system? What would you do to address it?
"Our public education system is the most important investment we have, and at every turn protecting and improving education has been our priority. In this arena, our record speaks for itself. 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 to the classroom. And despite unprecedented budget challenges we fund our public schools at the highest level in history - keeping teachers in their jobs and building new schools.
Because of our commitment to excellence in education, we won the national Race to the Top contest, earning our state $250 million. We will use this support to continue the work we've started and build an even stronger foundation for our kids.
In every budget conversation we have, we work to ensure that the quality of education in Massachusetts is not subject to the vicissitudes of the economy and politics. We will continue to do so in a second term.
So much of what we have worked on together in the first term is about laying the foundation to close the achievement gap. We want to continue to work with the administration, with teachers, and parents across the Commonwealth to utilize the new resources we have from the Achievement Gap legislation to improve Massachusetts schools even more than we have in this first term. We need to strengthen our focus on dropout prevention, and increase our inter-agency work to better serve all of our most vulnerable children. We are committed to utilizing wraparound services and improved mental health supports for children as part of our strategy. We are committed to ensuring that teachers and administrators all have the right tools and are using them to their maximum potential."
Do you agree with Arizona's new immigration law? If not, what should the state do about illegal immigration?
"I do not agree with Arizona's new immigration law.
Immigrants make up 14% of the population in Massachusetts, which is home to one of the most diverse and educated foreign-born populations in the United States. Most immigrants are here legally, and many are on their way to becoming full US citizens. However, approximately one in five immigrants is undocumented. Many undocumented residents are contributing members of our state and country -- working, oftentimes in the least desirable jobs -- and paying taxes. Many set up lasting roots here, starting families, buying property, and putting their children in school.
I support efforts to assist undocumented residents on the pathway to citizenship, and have advocated for comprehensive federal immigration reform that both secures our borders and creates rational and affordable paths to citizenship for all our immigrants and would allow for more family reunification visas and support our family reunification petitions for refugee families resettled in the United States.
Further, our administration has been committed to integrating immigrant families and communities into the Commonwealth. This is why the governor signed an executive order calling for the Governor's Advisory Council for Refugees and Immigrants to address these important issues in the New Americans Agenda on how we can better do this."
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 and our future lies not in fossil fuels, but in technology, innovation, and skill.
Our administration has supported Cape Wind since 2006 and I was pleased to work to advance the project through final federal approval in April when Secretary Salazar came to Massachusetts to announce the project was approved by the US government. We should seize this opportunity to be a leader in wind technology and to make Massachusetts a hub for clean technology and wind power. A 'first-mover' advantage will attract companies wanting to make investments in this field to come here and create jobs. We already see that with Siemens opening their offshore wind headquarters in Boston.
By the end of 2010, solar installations will have increased nearly 20-fold and wind turbine installations 10-fold since we took office. Jobs in the solar industry have more than doubled, and the number of solar installation firms quadrupled. 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 have coupled the growth of renewable energy initiatives with investments in energy efficiency. The new Massachusetts Clean Energy Center is a state-level agency exclusively devoted to the development and deployment of clean energy technologies for economic growth, jobs, and environmental benefits. In two years, it has made $9.5 million in investments, and leveraged over $40 million in external capital for clean energy development, resulting in the creation of more than 700 jobs in the next few years. The center has committed over $4 million to workforce training to meet the skilled labor needs of this growing industry and provide employment opportunities for Massachusetts residents at all levels. We hope to continue to make investments in these industries and initiatives in a second term to make renewable energy even more of a reality."
List four concrete steps you would take to improve the state's business climate and reduce business costs.
"In July, CNBC ranked Massachusetts the fifth-best state in which to do business. To further improve the business climate and reduce business costs, we will continue to fight skyrocketing health care costs for small businesses, to invest in our education system, and to invest industries that will create new jobs in the Commonwealth.
In addition to settling with four insurance companies on lower rates for 90% of the state's small businesses, Governor Patrick signed legislation in August that will provide savings of up to 12% and make rate adjustments that will reduce costs for small businesses. The legislation will also implement health care quality measures and support wellness programs aimed at improving employee health, which will decrease employer's costs. I will continue to work to reduce these rates and am committed to challenging insurance companies into the future to help small businesses stay afloat and growing.
Investments in our public education system are an economic development strategy. We need to connect more of our employers to our public higher education institutions and ensure that our students are prepared to contribute in the workplace. In K-12, we will continue to work to improve our standards and assessments, and to align our efforts at the front end in the early education space and as students move into colleges and careers. We need to implement our education reform bill so that every child in Massachusetts has the resources and opportunities needed to excel.
I am proud of our work with the people and businesses of Massachusetts to stabilize our economy today while maintaining investments in the innovation industries of the future. This is one of the big reasons that Massachusetts has been a leader in emerging from the global economic downturn. One of my top priorities has been creating jobs by making key investments that will have a long-term effect on job creation in fields such as life sciences and green technology."
What role should state government play in addressing inner-city violence? Do you have any specific proposals for dealing with the problem?
"State government has to take a leadership role to address the devastation of youth violence.
That is why, despite difficult times, we have worked closely with federal, local and nonprofit organizations on strategies to support youth workers, after school programs and summer jobs. That's why we have made the largest investment in public schools ever and can now offer families more options for schools that work best for their kids.
In addition, guns are flooding too many neighborhoods in our state. That's why the governor has 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 gun violence by inhibiting the straw purchases and subsequent illicit resale of firearms; it is not aimed at the lawful possession and use of firearms for hunting or sport. I believe that is an important first step in preventing further gun violence and tragedy in our communities, striking a fair balance between supporting efforts of police, prosecutors, and social service providers to keep our residents and neighbors safe, and the rights of responsible gun owners to use firearms for hunting or sport.
The bill also seeks to target criminals that carry a gun while committing a crime. It would make it a 10-year felony to carry a firearm while committing a misdemeanor. These criminals are just one step away from using a gun to trigger or escalate a potentially violent confrontation. This provision is aimed at deterring criminals from carrying deadly weapons and punishing criminals who seek to, would, or might be provoked into using a firearm to injure or kill during the commission of a crime."
A series of recent scandals have fueled voter cynicism. What would you to restore the public trust in government?
"People feel disconnected from their government. Some voters may feel that their government is not working for them as it should be. I think the most important ways that we can restore public trust in government is by increasing transparency and communication.
In order to increase transparency, our administration has worked hard to bring reforms that were only talked about for decades on Beacon Hill. During this first term, we signed into law four major reform bills, including pension reform that eliminates the most egregious abuses and special perks from the state's pension system, transportation reform to streamline our transportation bureaucracy and save millions, and the most sweeping ethics, lobbying, and campaign finance reforms in years. These efforts are part of our commitment to increase transparency within state government so that each of our residents can have faith in the work that is being done on their behalf.
In addition, our campaign is laying the foundation for increased communication with government by empowering voters where they are. As in 2006, our campaign is fundamentally a grassroots campaign. Our campaign is about people reaching out to people, person to person, where they live and work and inviting them to participate in their politics and their government. We hold regular meetings across the Commonwealth that focus on issues of concern to local communities through our Communities Connecting town hall series. I meet with smaller groups of residents in homes, schools, and workplaces. As I travel across the Commonwealth, community members bring questions and suggestions directly to me, unfiltered. This can be challenging, but is always thought-provoking, and ensures that the issues that are important to Massachusetts residents remain at the forefront, not just of our campaign, but of our administration."
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 decade-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 2 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.
Moving to help local government reduce costs and maintain essential services for residents, Governor Patrick signed a bill to allow municipalities to take part in the state's cost-effective, high-value health care system. So far, 27 communities, 6 school districts, and 3 planning councils have joined, reducing local health care spending by tens of millions of dollars annually."