State Treasurer Steven Grossman this morning reiterated his support for a higher minimum wage, earned sick time, and universal pre-kindergarten, proposals that have been centerpieces of his campaign for governor.
Staking out liberal ground in front of a business audience, the Democrat repeatedly struck a tone of economic populism in his speech before the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce.
“To those who have been living in despair for decades, without hope or economic opportunity,” he said at the swanky Boston Harbor Hotel, “I pledge that we will build... a commonwealth that levels the playing field and leaves no one behind.”
Speaking to scores of people munching on breakfast, including those from financial services industry, a health insurance company and the treasurer’s office, Grossman said he had a challenge for business community.
“Work with me. Invest in a progressive, forward-looking agenda for unparalleled economic growth. We must invest in the future together,” Grossman said.
Grossman called for a higher minimum wage, saying no one could live on the state’s current pay floor of $8 an hour.
Wednesday night, the state House of Representatives passed legislation that, over time, raises the minimum wage to $10.50. The state Senate earlier passed a bill that eventually boosts the hourly minimum wage to $11. The two chambers are set to attempt to hammer out a compromise.
In his speech, the treasurer also pitched increased partnerships between state government and the private sector.
“Public-private partnerships will help. They will help launch and sustain a pre-K program,” he said, later adding that those partnerships could boost vocational education opportunities in the state as well.
Grossman also noted his decades as a small-business owner and said, if elected governor, he would make state government “fast, flexible and entrepreneurial.”
After his speech, Grossman was asked how he might pay for the wide-reaching programs he proposed.
He said the most obvious way to do it was to grow the economy. Another way, he explained, was to find savings in the way government functions. And a third was to partner with the private sector.
But, he added, there was another option when others were exhausted.
Grossman told reporters after his speech that he “will not take raising taxes off the table.”
Grossman is one of five Democrats running for governor. The others are Attorney General Martha Coakley; Donald M. Berwick, a doctor and health care policy expert; Juliette Kayyem, a former homeland security official; and Joe Avellone, a biopharmaceutical executive.
Two Republicans are also running to succeed Governor Deval Patrick: former health insurance company executive Charlie Baker and businessman Mark R. Fisher.
And there are three independent candidates in the race: Venture capital investor Jeffrey S. McCormick, attorney Evan Falchuk, and Scott Lively, an evangelical Christian pastor.