"The country is in serious trouble, and we need to come up with a plan for dealing with the situation.
I can help; I have a wealth of knowledge to draw on through my experiences teaching, but especially through the production of my one and only book, 'Ideas for America 1.'
For starters, I can be very effective in producing comprehensive, effective annual reports that will be of use to the people. If enough people have the right information, we can deal with any problem, and it's through those annual reports that I intend to give them the clarity they need.
We the people need to use our minds and work together, and I'm confident that if we do so, everything else will follow naturally. Annual reports are the best place to start for the people to have this clarity."
— 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?
"Yes, I do support these proposals.
Health care costs now make up 12% of the total budget of cities and towns, up from 8% as recently as 10 years ago. And, according to a study by the Rand Corporation, in the absence of policy change, these price increases will continue.
According to the Massachusetts Municipal Association, communities could save 4-6% on their annual budgets due to the ability to 'plan design.' The association argues that this $100 million can be used to protect vital municipal services and jobs.
Additionally, the group claims that the 4% local aid cut that's now expected in the fiscal 2011 state budget can only mean another round of job losses for local government. They feel that the majority of these job losses could be avoided by giving local governments plan design authority, and I'm inclined to agree with them.
For these reasons, I support further exploring the proposals of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Association."
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?
"Capping annual pensions at $100,000, yes.
Raising the retirement age, we'd have to hear a great deal of testimony to make a good decision on that one."
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?
"Yes, but being a teacher (and having proctored a few of these exams), I have a few opinions on the subject.
Specifically, it's important to allow some students more time to take the test, and in some cases even to have someone help explain the questions to them."
Should the state Legislature be exempt from the state's public records law?
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.
"For me, the main concern is not any particular vote, but rather communicating more effectively with people in the district through annual reports that go to every household in the district.
The reports from my office will include breakdowns of increases and decreases in spending and revenue, as well as information on progress in areas such as infrastructure and green energy.
With every household in the district getting these high-quality annual reports, we'll have one more method of communication between the government and the people, which can lead to a great deal of cooperation and good, productive work."
Will you make public any questionnaires you fill out in pursuit of the endorsement of unions or other groups?
"Sure, it seems axiomatic that any candidate would do so."
Should the Legislature be subject to a full audit?
"Yes, this might help in creating some real transparency."
Is the Legislature holding enough full formal sessions?
"Yes, they are. I don't think that the problem is not holding enough sessions. To me, it's the quality of those sessions, not the quantity that counts.
More interesting to me is exploring the idea of annual reports, and the potential they have for giving the people the information they need to make the right decisions. This is something we might do through local newspapers."
Should there be term limits for the jobs of House Speaker and Senate President?
"That might be a good idea, but then again, there are other, more effective areas that we might focus on instead, such as a list of responses to the economic crisis."