Treasurer: Comparing the Candidates

Share, with attribution, and amplify progressives' voices, questions and priorities during the 2014 campaigns. 
SOURCE CITE: progressivemass.com/2014statewide
Feb. 2014. [back


TREASURER'S OFFICE: COMPARE CANDIDATES' RESPONSES

SECTION I: QUALIFICATIONS AND VISION

* About the Candidates

* Philosophy and Priorities

SECTION II: THE ISSUES

* PART A: JOB GROWTH AND THE ECONOMY

Job Growth and the Economy: Statement/Experience

Job Growth and the Economy:Policy Proposals

* PART B: EDUCATION & WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT

Education & Workforce Development: Statement/Experience

Education & Workforce Development:Policy Proposals

* PART C: HEALTH CARE

Healthcare: Statement/Experience

Healthcare: Policies and Proposals

* PART D: HOUSING

Housing: Statement/Experience

Housing: Policies and Proposals

* PART E: REVENUE AND TAXATION

Revenue & Taxation: Statement/Experience

Revenue & Taxation: Policies and Proposals

* ADDITIONAL COMMENTS

* PDF VERSION: TREASURER'S RACE QUESTIONNAIRE RESPONSES

CANDIDATES' ORIGINAL RESPONSES: 


QUALIFICATIONS AND VISION

About the Candidates

[Section I] |[ TOP ]|

Motivation

[Question 1] Why are you running for office?

|[ TOP ]|

Tom Conroy

Why are you running for office?

I am running for state treasurer because I want to lead Massachusetts forward as a commonwealth of opportunity.  I want to improve access to education, jobs, and capital for the people of Massachusetts, particularly for the working poor.  In today’s tough economic times, we need to find a better balance between prudent financial management and helping the most vulnerable in our society.   I want to create a new vision for our state that focuses on economic growth, job training, education, and targeted investments to spur the creation of middle class jobs.

I believe that inequality is the defining challenge of our time.  I want to use the levers and authority of the state treasurer’s office to fight for fairness, economic justice, and opportunity for all.  Our next state treasurer must not only be an expert financial mechanic, but also proactive and focused on the long-term.  We need a leader who will expand the state treasurer’s role, offer creative ideas, conduct new and potent analysis, affect change, and ultimately help more people in Massachusetts who face disadvantages through no fault of their own.  If elected, I will be an active and dynamic treasurer and will offer creative solutions to tackle the tough challenges facing our state and working families throughout the Commonwealth.

|[ TOP ]|

Barry Finegold

Why are you running for office?

I am running to fight for the middle class each and every day. I will make sure more of our money is invested in Massachusetts businesses and communities to strengthen our economy and create jobs. I will protect every dollar of taxpayer money the same way I have worked for my own.

As a son of two school teachers, the public service gene is in my blood. I want to be the next State Treasurer to help ensure everyone in Massachusetts has the same opportunities I had growing up.

|[ TOP ]|

Deborah Goldberg

Why are you running for office?

I am running for Treasurer because for me improving economic security and empowerment for everyone in Massachusetts is more than just a policy; it’s a personal mission.  I believe the office of Treasurer provides a unique opportunity to increase transparency within our government, wage equity within the office and financial literacy for women, our youth and minorities.

|[ TOP ]|

Qualifications

[Question 2] What prepares you to serve in this capacity?

|[ TOP ]|

Conroy

What prepares you to serve in this capacity?

As a four-term state representative, I authored several laws including budget language that has strengthened the state’s credit rating and pension reforms that resulted in reducing the state’s liabilities while persevering benefits for retirees.  This session, I am also leading two major legislative efforts:  crafting a bill to raise the minimum wage in Massachusetts and another to improve our welfare system in order to help the most disadvantaged find new opportunities and jobs.

The combination of my education, management consulting, financial services, and public sector experience makes me uniquely well-qualified to be state treasurer.  My education includes two masters’ degrees, one in international economics, the other an MBA in finance.  As a management consultant with state agencies around the country, I led teams that developed best practices in the areas of budgeting, non-tax revenue generation, and financial management.  Our teams helped states run more efficiently and effectively, and expand budgets without raising taxes.  As a management consultant advising large corporations, I offered guidance on strategy, operations, and financial management to help companies grow.  As a risk management consultant, I helped banks, investment management companies, and insurance firms manage their balance sheets and risks.  

As a state representative, I have served as the Vice Chair of the Health Care Financing Committee, which oversees over a third of the Massachusetts budget.  I have also served on the House Ways & Means Committee, and the Joint Committee on Public Service, which has jurisdiction over the state pension and health care security trust funds.

|[ TOP ]|

Finegold

What prepares you to serve in this capacity?

My combination of public and private sector experience has provided me with the background to be a very effective Treasurer. As a legislator, I have served on the Ways & Means Committee and on the Financial Literacy Fund. Throughout my public service career, I fought to make sure middle class families had more money in their pockets by increasing the minimum wage and passing financial education legislation to help families keep their homes and help our young people make wise financial decisions.

|[ TOP ]|

Goldberg

What prepares you to serve in this capacity?

I believe I can effectively serve the Commonwealth as Treasurer because of my diverse background in both the public and private sectors.
I am a businessperson, who worked at a company that was unusual in its commitment to people. I learned early on that you can run a good business and still make sure that it is about providing equal opportunity for everyone. I worked at Stop and Shop, first as a retail clerk (UFCW 1445), then onto executive positions within the company.
I then served six years on the Brookline Board of Selectmen the last two as its Chair, where I led initiatives to revitalize Brookline’s commercial areas and increase the availability of affordable housing. I was one of the first local leaders to bring policy budgeting to the forefront and led a team to evaluate and institute fiscal policies that helped meet the needs of the schools and all town services.

In addition, I have devoted my time and energy to numerous non-profits and institutions throughout the state, including Adoptions with Love, The Greater Boston Food Bank, Combined Jewish Philanthropies, Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, Boston College, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and the Center for Collaborative Education.

I am also the Massachusetts Senate President’s appointee to the Treasurer’s Commonwealth Covenant Fund, providing tuition reimbursement to graduates in need, who attended state colleges and are working in science technology, engineering, and math fields.
As Treasurer, I will use my business skills and finance background to promote policies that are fiscally responsible and economically innovative, protecting taxpayers’ dollars, increasing financial growth, and using the unique opportunities within the Treasurer’s office to promote economic empowerment and economic stability.

|[ TOP ]|

Philosophy and Priorities

Role of Government

[Question 3] What do you think is the proper role of government in Massachusetts residents’ daily lives?

|[ TOP ]|

Conroy

What do you think is the proper role of government in Massachusetts residents’ daily lives?

Our state government should ensure economic justice and equality of opportunity for its residents.  Massachusetts should be an opportunity society in which all individuals willing to learn new skills and work hard have a chance to succeed.  The best safety net program for any individual is a steady job with good wages and benefits.  As elected officials, we must ensure that access to quality education, employment, housing, child care, and health care are attainable for working families, and that everyone has an opportunity to achieve the American Dream and create a better life for themselves and their children.  It is vital that we reinvest in those on the edge of poverty who want work but can’t find jobs, or want to work more, but don’t have the support structure to sustain low-wage employment.   

Our government must make investments for the common good, which include improving our infrastructure:  public transportation, water systems, public parks, and the like.  Government must also provide essential services that the private sector will not:  public safety, a judicial system, and a social and economic safety net for those who are facing significant obstacles and challenges each day.  

In short, government helps provide the opportunities, infrastructure, and safety-net programs that keep our society together.

|[ TOP ]|

Finegold

What do you think is the proper role of government in Massachusetts residents’ daily lives?

Government should be the basic foundation of society, providing safe roads, quality schools, and safe neighborhoods. It should provide everyone with the opportunity to succeed in life, no matter where they live.

|[ TOP ]|

Goldberg

What do you think is the proper role of government in Massachusetts residents’ daily lives?

I believe that our government should reflect our values.  Core among this, should be to make life easier and provide opportunity to those who need it most.  That is why as Treasurer I will use the bully pulpit of the office to bring about progressive change and a sense of social justice to our business community.  For example, we should invest in socially responsible businesses and use our investment power to elevate more women and minorities onto the boards of these businesses, because, like government, our businesses will be more successful if they represent those they serve.

|[ TOP ]|

Top priorities

[Question 4] If elected, what would be your top 3 priorities?

Conroy

If elected, what would be your top 3 priorities?

  • Job Creation: Connecting the unemployed and underemployed with the approximately 120,000 open jobs through targeted workforce training would be a top priority.  I would prioritize smart economic and job growth policies.  As treasurer, I would invest more in companies based in Massachusetts with track records of job growth and increase investments in local banks so these banks can loan more to our small businesses, the engines of new job growth.  In the long term, getting more people into good jobs will reduce spending on state-subsidized programs in the areas of child care, public assistance, health care, housing, energy, and transportation, among others.
  • Education:  Education is the path to opportunity, the great equalizer, the key to future success.  As Massachusetts’ next state treasurer, I will build upon our state’s commitment to excellence and equal opportunity in our public school system by investing in universal pre-k education, increasing funding for our K-12 schools as chair of the Massachusetts School Building Authority, and expanding the higher education student loan program managed by the treasurer’s office.
  • Local Aid:  Massachusetts has the most lucrative and successful state lottery in the nation.  In the past few years, our lottery has generated over $900 million in annual profits, all of which were reinvested in education systems throughout the Commonwealth.  Ensuring that the lottery remains profitable, monitoring the introduction of casinos, and protecting local aid for the 351 cities and towns throughout the Commonwealth would a top priority if elected treasurer.

|[ TOP ]|

Finegold

If elected, what would be your top 3 priorities?

  1. Supporting the building of schools that can provide a 21st century education in a cost- effective manner.
  2. Promoting financial literacy.
  3. Economic Development in our Gateway Cities.

|[ TOP ]|

Goldberg

If elected, what would be your top 3 priorities?

The overarching theme of my campaign will be economic stability and empowerment.  My top three priorities that are directly related to this are:

  1. To establish a comprehensive and robust financial literacy program to reach those most susceptible to the type of predatory practices that nearly caused our economy to collapse just a few short years ago.
  2. Ensuring pay equity and wage equality - This is more than just a fairness issue to me.  It is a family issue and strong families will lead to a stronger Commonwealth!
  3. Increase transparency within the Treasurer’s office - We have taken steps within the office, but there is more to do.  Every taxpayer should feel confident that we are investing and spending their dollars openly, honestly and with the utmost professionalism. 

|[ TOP ]|

A. JOB GROWTH AND THE ECONOMY

[Section A] The Massachusetts economy has continued to grow and recover from the Great Recession, but the gains have not been shared equally. Poverty levels continue to increase, while the minimum wage loses value every year. Massachusetts now ranks 8th in the nation for income inequality.

|[ TOP ]||[ Part A ]|

Statement/Experience

[Question A1/A2] Share your personal values and principles on job growth and the economy. POSSIBLE TOPICS: How can we improve the economy and economic security for all people? How do we grow the number of good paying jobs in the Commonwealth? How do you view wealth and income inequality, and what would you do about it, if anything?

|[ TOP ]||[ Part A ]|

TOM CONROY

Share your personal values and principles on job growth and the economy.

Many of the challenges facing families, businesses, and government today stem from a disturbing and growing phenomenon: income inequality.  Each day a growing number of Massachusetts’ families have fewer opportunities to create a better future, despite how hard they work.  In the past three decades, our economy has changed.  Good middle class jobs have been replaced with low-wage jobs with few benefits and part-time hours.
As state treasurer, I will work every day to ensure fairness, justice, and opportunity for all.  No one working a full-time should be living in poverty.  Our Massachusetts economy should work for anyone who is willing to work.  As the author of legislation to increase the minimum wage, which will be debated in the House of Representatives this session, I believe that raising the minimum wage is the first step toward addressing income inequality.   Doing so will help tens of thousands of working families throughout the Commonwealth.  We must also expand the Earned Income Tax Credit, increase funding for workforce training, and ensure workplace protections for low-wage workers.
We must invest in those who need us the most:  our youth, the unemployed and underemployed, and those seeking upward economic mobility.  A poverty commission bill I authored will help us analyze the root causes of poverty in our state and offer recommended solutions for reducing it.  As Massachusetts’ next state treasurer, I will focus on poverty reduction and use the many levers within the treasurer’s office to address economic justice and seek economic opportunity for all.

|[ TOP ]||[ Part A ]|

Conroy: Related experience/record

As House Chair of the Labor and Workforce Development Committee, my focus this year has been to craft a bill to raise the minimum wage and increase funding for workforce training.  Raising the minimum wage in Massachusetts will lead to economic expansion and more job creation, because nearly 500,000 workers will have more income to spend.

I have led the effort to increase workforce training for the 400,000 residents of our state that want to work but cannot find good jobs.  I authored a bill to dramatically increase funding for education, skills development, and workforce training to help these 400,000 residents obtain the skills they need to obtain the 120,000 jobs that are open in Massachusetts.  Also, in the FY14 budget, I advocated for and was successful in obtaining a significant funding increase in the Summer Jobs for At-Risk Youth Program, “YouthWorks”.  This vital program helps thousands of at risk youth find summer employment and its return on investment in developing the career readiness skills for these youth is significant.  

I also authored a bill creating a commission to study poverty throughout the commonwealth and how poverty can be reduced.  Through this commission, we have an opportunity to research and study the root causes of poverty, income inequality, violence, educational barriers, and the potential long-term municipal and state government savings that can result from effective poverty reduction initiatives.  In doing so, we can craft creative solutions to lower poverty and unemployment rates and redirect state funding towards creating new jobs.

|[ TOP ]||[ Part A ]|

BARRY FINEGOLD

Share your personal values and principles on job growth and the economy.

In order to improve the Massachusetts economy for all residents, we have to create opportunities in our Gateway Cities. As a State Representative and Senator, I have had the privilege of representing the City of Lawrence. The City of Lawrence is the poorest city in the Commonwealth, but it is a proud city of immigrants. I have worked tirelessly to improve education in the City, support workforce development programs, and bring businesses to the City. Growth in our Gateway Cities helps all our communities. We must create opportunities in our urban areas to grow our economy as a whole.

|[ TOP ]||[ Part A ]|

Finegold: Related experience/record

On the legislative front, I have been a leader in pushing for policy changes that would create jobs in the clean energy sector in Massachusetts, including:

  • S1593, An Act relative to credit for thermal energy generated with renewable fuels, which would promote the growth of the thermal energy sector in Massachusetts, in turn creating jobs in the industry, recently reported favorably from the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy;
  • Successful amendments increasing the net metering cap so that solar energy can continue to compete and the industry can continue to thrive in the Commonwealth; and
  • During 2013's debate on updates to SREC regulations, I successfully worked with DOER to ensure that the economics of the original SREC program were preserved for shovel ready projects.

Additionally, I am a co-sponsor of the earned sick leave bill.

In my district, I have done extensive work to advance job growth and the economy, particularly in the City of Lawrence. For years, I have worked with Lawrence Community Works and Groundwork Lawrence to get them the state assistance they need to convert old mill buildings into affordable housing, which has a great impact on the local economy.

|[ TOP ]||[ Part A ]|

DEBORAH GOLDBERG

Share your personal values and principles on job growth and the economy.

My campaign is about economic security and economic empowerment. In the Treasurer’s office I can continue my advocacy and testimony around issues like the minimum wage and paid sick leave. But I also intend to promote additional investment in local businesses through our community banking partnership by improving the existing program. I will also focus upon establishing wage equality because women’s issues are family issues, and intend to provide comprehensive financial tools and training to women, immigrants, and minorities all of whom are at risk.

|[ TOP ]||[ Part A ]|

Goldberg: Related experience/record

Both in my business life and my non-profit and public service I have focused on programs around job creation, and education and training that leads to jobs.

|[ TOP ]||[ Part A ]|

Policy Proposals

Minimum Wage

[Question A3] Do you support:

Raising the minimum wage to at least $10.50/hour:
  • SUPPORTS: Conroy, Finegold, Goldberg
  • CONROY: From its creation, the value of the minimum wage rose steadily until it reached a high point in 1968.  Today, the minimum wage remains 25 percent below its 1968 level.  Thus, a full-time minimum wage worker earned the equivalent of $21,400 annually in 1968 (measured in inflation-adjusted 2013 dollars), about $5,000 more than a minimum wage worker actually earns today.  If this year we can increase the minimum wage to that 1968 level, which equates to over $10.50/hour, then indexing the minimum wage thereafter would ensure it retains its value and keeps pace with the rising costs of transportation, food, housing, child care, healthcare, and other necessities.

|[ TOP ]||[ Part A ]|

Indexing automatic yearly increases to inflation:
  • SUPPORTS: Conroy, Finegold, Goldberg

|[ TOP ]||[ Part A ]|

Increasing tipped wages to 60% of the minimum wage:             
  • SUPPORTS: Goldberg
  • CONROY: We should also increase significantly the tipped minimum wage, which has not been raised since 1999.  It should be noted that raising the minimum wage is the most important goal for tipped workers too:  all tipped workers are guaranteed a minimum wage, regardless of what they earn (or don’t earn) in tips.  Increasing the tipped minimum wage will help ensure that the business community shares in the cost of an increased earned income tax credit, which will put more money in the pockets of the working poor, many of whom are single mothers working as tipped employees in the hospitality industry.
  • FINEGOLD: I voted to increase tipped wages to 45% of the minimum wage, which I felt was a reasonable percentage.

|[ TOP ]||[ Part A ]|

Unemployment Insurance and Minimum Wage

[Question A4] As of January 2014, the legislature is negotiating a bill that would pair an increase in the minimum wage with cuts to unemployment insurance. Do you oppose this effort?

  • OPPOSES LINKING: Conroy, Goldberg
  • CONROY: As House Chair of the Committee on Labor and Workforce Development, I feel strongly that we should not justify a minimum wage increase by cutting unemployment insurance benefits. There are still far too many Massachusetts families who have yet to recover from the Great Recession.  If one believes that increasing the minimum wage will lead to economic expansion, as most economists do, then no concession is required for the business community on unemployment insurance.   // A legacy of the Great Recession is unusually high long-term unemployment, a sign of the depth of the recession, not workers’ efforts or generous benefit levels.  Any savings businesses would enjoy if we were to cut unemployment insurance benefits would be greatly outweighed by the harm it would cause to those struggling to get through a temporary setback and reenter the workforce.  
  • FINEGOLD: I voted to increase the minimum wage in a bill that was not paired with unemployment insurance. As we don’t know what will come out of conference committee, I cannot answer yes or no on this question. If the only avenue to increasing the minimum wage comes with corresponding reasonable changes to unemployment insurance, I do not want to close the door on that possibility.

|[ TOP ]||[ Part A ]|

Earned sick time

[Question A5] Do you support requiring businesses with more than 11 employees to provide earned, paid sick time to their employees?

  • SUPPORTS: Finegold, Goldberg
  • CONROY: No one should have to go to work ill because he or she is afraid of losing his or her job.  Moreover, single mothers should not have to choose between sending their sick children to school or going to work.  Daughters and sons should not be discriminated against at work or fired because the parents they care for in their home need emergency care.  Thousands of families lack the income to build a support structure to adapt to these situations; they should not be penalized because they are not rich.  Studies have also shown that low-wage workers are more likely to lack affordable employer provided health insurance, sick days, and paid time off. As House chair of the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development, I am crafting a bill to address this inequality and prevent the working poor from being penalized further.
  • FINEGOLD: I am a co-sponsor of this bill.

|[ TOP ]||[ Part A ]|

Job Creation and Standards for Living Wage

[Question A6] A “Job Creation and Quality Standards Act” would require corporations that receive any kind of public benefits (grants, tax expenditures procurement contracts) to, in turn, pay a living wage ($15 per hour plus benefits) to full-time employees. Do you support such legislation?

  • SUPPORTS: Goldberg
  • CONROY: Over 100 year ago, when Massachusetts’ legislators passed the first minimum wage law in the United States, they required wages to be sufficient “to supply the necessary cost of living and to maintain the workers in health.”  To comply with the intent of this law, an individual working full time in Massachusetts today would need to earn $28,500 annually to be economically independent.  A living wage for single parent families with one child amounts to nearly $52,000 annually, equating to about $25.00/hour.// More and more working families struggle to put food on the table, make a living wage, send their kids to college, or afford basic healthcare.  Consequently, businesses have fewer customers and the economy suffers as consumer spending shrinks.  
    A “Job Creation and Quality Standards Act” is an interesting concept that is worthy of study and analysis.  It aligns with my principles and goals and I would like to be a part of an effort to explore this idea further.  
  • FINEGOLD: No response

||[ TOP ]||[ Part A ]|

Employee-owned businesses

[Question A7] Do you support legislation to foster and develop employee ownership of businesses in Massachusetts?

  • SUPPORTS: Conroy, Finegold, Goldberg
  • CONROY: I am the author of legislation that would encourage Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs) in Massachusetts.  

|[ TOP ]||[ Part A ]|

Co-ops, benefit corporations, community banks

[Question A8]Do you support legislation that would encourage the formation of cooperatives and/or benefit corporations and the development of community banks?

  • SUPPORTS: Conroy, Finegold, Goldberg
  • CONROY: As the next state treasurer, I will continue to support the growth and development of community banks.  These banks are the primary sources of capital for local businesses that hire local residents into new jobs.  In 2009 while considering a run for state treasurer, I shared with Steve Grossman the idea of investing the state’s reserved deposits with local banks instead of overseas or with a California-based mutual fund (as it had been invested).  Once elected, Treasurer Grossman implemented this idea successfully.  I want to continue to expand the initiative, with a goal of investing more than $1 billion at over 100 local banks.  

|[ TOP ]||[ Part A ]|

EDUCATION & WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT

[Section B] Public education has always been a gateway to opportunity and mobility for all, regardless of economic circumstances, a cornerstone of the American dream for all residents. However, the soaring price of higher education over the last several decades has made access to this opportunity increasingly out of reach, at the very moment when higher education makes a greater difference to one’s economic future. Meanwhile, powerful corporate interests have been steadily undermining public school teachers and unions and siphoning money from our public K-12 system.

|[ TOP ]||[ Part B ]|

Statement/Experience

[Questions B1/B2] Please share your personal values and principles regarding public education and workforce training. SUGGESTED TOPICS: What value does public education and workforce development have in improving our economy as well as in addressing matters of economic justice? What measures should the Commonwealth take on these issues? You might address, for example, charter schools, school vouchers, standardized testing and federal programs like No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top.

|[ TOP ]||[ Part B ]|

TOM CONROY

Please share your personal values and principles regarding public education and workforce training.

Neither businesses nor our government should be creating obstacles for parents obtaining jobs because they lack affordable child care.  In many instances, government should actually encourage parents to work by offering high-quality child care and early education for their children.  Early education programs bolster educational attainment and help children enter school on equal footing, which is particularly important for children from poor communities and children who speak a language other than English at home.  Access and affordability of early education programs is critical if we want all children to have equal opportunities to do better in school, increase graduation rates throughout the state, and help the next generation become productive members of society.  Universal access to comprehensive, high-quality, early education is essential in order to ensure that effort matters over location and opportunity persists over circumstance.

We must also ensure that college remains affordable and within reach for all who are willing to work for it.  Today, students and families are incurring massive amounts of debt to pay for higher education.  One major reason students don’t finish community college in Massachusetts is the cost.  If elected state treasurer, I would expand the student loan authority within the treasurer’s office so that hard-working students can obtain a higher education, a better future, and a better life.

|[ TOP ]||[ Part B ]|

Conroy/Related Experience

The Early Intervention program in our state assists thousands of children up to age three who have developmental delays.  Increasing funding for early intervention services has been one of my top legislative priorities since I entered the legislature.  As the father of triplets who graduated from Early Intervention, I have seen firsthand the value of this program.  Most importantly, I recognize the fabulous return on investment of this program.  By investing in these essential services early, we can obviate the need for costly special education services, saving towns, cities, and state government tens of millions of dollars each year.
I have led the effort to increase workforce training for the 400,000 residents of our state that want to work but lack the skills to get good jobs.  I am the author of a bill to dramatically increase funding for education, skills development, and workforce training to help these 400,000 residents obtain the skills they need to obtain the 120,000 jobs that are open in Massachusetts.  We have not adequately prioritized workforce training.  We must do more.  
In 2009, Speaker DeLeo appointed me as his designee to serve on Governor Patrick’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) advisory council.  This council brings together educators, legislators, and business and community leaders in order to promote greater understanding about STEM, its importance in students’ academic achievement, and developing innovative ways to prepare of our youth for 21st Century jobs.

|[ TOP ]||[ Part B ]|

BARRY FINEGOLD

Please share your personal values and principles regarding public education and workforce training.

I believe strongly that all our kids, no matter where they live, deserve the opportunity to participate in the Massachusetts Dream. The only way to do that is to ensure quality schools throughout the Commonwealth. In my capacity as State Representative and Senator, I have learned firsthand that parents do not care what kind of schools their children attend – be it public, private or charter – as long as they receive an excellent education.

While, as a whole, Massachusetts has a strong, successful education system compared to many states, in many urban areas the quality of education is not acceptable. Rather than pitting public schools against charter schools, we should ensure collaboration between the two. The City of Lawrence serves as a model of this collaboration for not just of the Commonwealth, but for the nation as well. This school district has seen success from the inclusion of everyone at the table – administrators, unions, charter schools and parents. For example, the UP Academy Leonard School, created when a charter school partnered with union teachers at Leonard Middle School in Lawrence, ranks second in Massachusetts for median student math growth at 83%. Moreover, UP Academy Leonard boasts a one-year math proficiency rate of 56%, which is three-times higher than it was in 2012 at 19%. We cannot ignore results like this – we owe it to our kids to look at these successes and replicate them in failing schools. I’m proud of the successes we’ve seen in Lawrence and the innovative methods used to get there.

|[ TOP ]||[ Part B ]|

Finegold/Related Experience

This session, I filed S235, An Act to further narrow the achievement gap, as one of my top priorities. This bill would lift the cap on charter schools in the lowest 10% performing school districts and provide the turnaround tools necessary for low performing school districts to improve underperforming schools.
I have a longstanding partnership with Northern Essex Community College (NECC) that continues to provide my district and the rest of the Merrimack Valley with invaluable educational and vocational opportunities that consistently lead to employment. Throughout my tenure as a State Legislator, I have pushed for the expansion of NECC within the City of Lawrence to provide jobs as well as education that will lead to jobs. President Lane Glenn and I are presently working on two new initiatives: the establishment of a police training program in the area and an advanced manufacturing academy in partnership with Greater Lawrence Technical School and local businesses.

Through my interactions with the people and businesses of Lawrence, I have come to understand how Gateway Cities are in desperate need of job training, which is why I have fought and will continue to fight to provide those resources in my district.

|[ TOP ]||[ Part B ]|

DEBORAH GOLDBERG

Please share your personal values and principles regarding public education and workforce training.

Our public schools and teachers are being undermined when they have one of the most difficult jobs in our country. Education is the key to upward mobility and economic advancement and too many initiatives today interfere in the basic work of teaching. They scapegoat teachers and our schools, particularly in poorer communities, where teachers are working with kids whose lives outside the school have incredible difficulties that interfere with learning.

I understand parent’s desire for school choice and the idea of standards but not the way it is applied today. There is no such thing as a one size fits all standardized test. Charters take funding from the public schools but do not have to work with the same population. We need to support the structure of our public school system and give them the resources they need.

|[ TOP ]||[ Part B ]|

Goldberg/Related Experience

As a Selectman, I opposed and helped lead a resolution against the MCAS as the sole standard of graduation and was the only candidate in the 2006 cycle that supported Mayor Scott Lang of New Bedford when he awarded diplomas to kids who passed New Bedford High School’s standards but not the MCAS.
I am on the Executive Committee of the Center for Collaborative Education (CCE), which has since 1994 worked on the PILOT school initiatives and continues works with the public schools and seeks to increase justice and opportunity for all learners through a wide range of programs.
I also fought against the ballot question that eliminated ELL programs in Massachusetts.

|[ TOP ]||[ Part B ]|

Achievement Gaps

[Question B3] What would you do to address persistent racial and economic achievement gaps in education?

|[ TOP ]||[ Part B ]|

Conroy

What would you do to address persistent racial and economic achievement gaps in education?

Massachusetts invests a below-average share of our state’s economic resources in public education.  Since 2001, spending on early education and care has fallen by 25 percent.  In Massachusetts, 40 percent of our third graders cannot read proficiently.  And the inequities run deeper and are evident even earlier:  by age three, children of parents who are professionals have vocabularies 50 percent larger than children from working class families and 100 percent larger than vocabularies of children whose families receive welfare.  Meanwhile the cost of child care is prohibitive for many families in Massachusetts.  Today, almost 20 percent of all Massachusetts children up to age five are either in state-subsidized child care (30,000 children) or on waiting lists (40,000 children).  

Many of the achievement gaps we see today persist because children do not start kindergarten on equal footing.  High-income families have the luxury to spend more time and money educating their children.  I would advocate for public education to begin as early as possible, ensuring that every child, regardless of his or her zip code, is not playing catch-up before age five.  Universal access to comprehensive, high-quality early education programs can start with the treasurer’s office leading the way and building pre-k classrooms throughout the state through the Massachusetts School Building Authority program.  

|[ TOP ]||[ Part B ]|

Finegold

What would you do to address persistent racial and economic achievement gaps in education?

I have seen the success that can be achieved when everyone involved in education comes to the table and works together to provide the best outcomes for our children as we have in Lawrence. Innovative solutions such as partnering charter schools and public schools together and giving failing public schools turnaround tools can change the face of urban education and provide the opportunities our kids deserve.

|[ TOP ]||[ Part B ]|

Goldberg

What would you do to address persistent racial and economic achievement gaps in education?

I chaired the Strategic Planning process for CCE with the development of mission and focus. Our stated mission and vision reflects my beliefs in what education should achieve and so, I have copied it here:

The mission of the Center for Collaborative Education (CCE) is to transform schools to ensure that all students succeed.  We believe that schools should prepare every student to achieve academically and make a positive contribution to a democratic society. CCE partners with public schools and districts to create and sustain effective and equitable schools. We fulfill this mission in four primary ways:

  • Building understanding with the larger public that innovative schools can increase opportunity and justice for every student.
  • Creating effective models of urban education, district redesign, and leadership development.
  • Providing onsite coaching, professional development, and networking opportunities for educators. 
  • Conducting research that documents school progress and student results.

The Center for Collaborative Education seeks to influence the larger public’s view on education to better support change that fosters democratic and equitable schools.  CCE seeks to create autonomous and flexible schools in which:

  • Equity and diversity are embedded in all practices,
  • Teaching and learning are purposeful, challenging, and have value beyond school,
  • Assessment demonstrates the competence of students in multiple ways,
  • Students and teachers know each other well,
  • Democratic values are nurtured and modeled,
  • Decisions are made as close to the learner as possible, and
  • Collaborative practices improve teaching and learning.

|[ TOP ]||[ Part B ]|

Policy Proposals

Universal Pre-K

[Question B4.] Do you support creating universal, free Pre-K, accessible to any resident of Massachusetts, integrated into the public school system?

  • SUPPORT: Conroy, Goldberg
  • FINEGOLD: I am open to the idea of a universal pre-kindergarten as long as we first find a sustainable payment model.

|[ TOP ]||[ Part B ]|

Universal higher-ed

[Question B5.] Do you support a program that provides free, publicly funded higher education for every student who wants it?

  • SUPPORT: Conroy, Goldberg
  • FINEGOLD: I believe that something has to be done about higher education costs. It is not sustainable to have our young people starting out their lives with such heavy debt loads – they will not be able to afford to buy a home, start a family, or support our economy. Innovative initiatives such as the Commonwealth Covenant Fund provide promise for lowering higher education costs for students while also keeping our best and brightest in Massachusetts.

|[ TOP ]||[ Part B ]|

Funding structure

[Question B6] Do you support changes to the Chapter 70 Education formula, including the Foundation Budget, to incorporate proper state funding for ELL students, Special Education students, transportation costs, charter school reimbursements to sending schools, and class size reduction?

  • SUPPORT: Conroy, Finegold, Goldberg
  • I am a co-sponsor of S207, An Act reviving the Foundation Budget Review Commission, which would initiate the review and revision of the Chapter 70 Education formula to more accurately provide the resources necessary for students to meet and exceed Massachusetts’ education standards.

|[ TOP ]||[ Part B ]|

HEALTH CARE

[Section C.] Massachusetts has led the way in providing near universal health care insurance coverage. However, we still spend an oversized portion of public and private money on health care, without necessarily achieving better health outcomes.

Statement/Experience

[Questions C1/C2] Please share your personal values and principles regarding health care insurance, delivery and outcomes.

|[ TOP ]||[ Part C ]|

TOM CONROY

Please share your personal values and principles regarding health care insurance, delivery and outcomes.

I am proud that Massachusetts has been a leader in health care insurance and delivery over the past decade.  It is essential that everyone in Massachusetts have access to affordable and high quality health care.  We must ensure that regardless of income and geographical location, families across our state can not only afford quality health insurance policies but that there are quality hospitals, doctors and community health centers in every region of our state.  

As Vice Chair of the Health Care Finance Committee last session, I immersed myself in our Commonwealth’s health care debate.  I read thousands of pages of reports and analysis, met with interested parties, and helped draft the Health Care Quality Improvement and Cost Containment Law of 2012.  This law caps health care spending in our state while encouraging new models of health care service, and focuses not on procedures, but on outcomes, positive results, and better health for our residents.

|[ TOP ]||[ Part C ]|

Conroy/Related Experience

I supported and helped draft sections of the 2010 Small Business Health Care Cost Containment Act, giving the Massachusetts Division of Insurance the regulatory authority to reject excessive or unreasonable premium increases on small businesses.  Under this law, small businesses can group to purchase health insurance in order to obtain lower premiums and better terms and conditions for their employees.

|[ TOP ]||[ Part C ]|

BARRY FINEGOLD

Please share your personal values and principles regarding health care insurance, delivery and outcomes.

No response

|[ TOP ]||[ Part C ]|

DEBORAH GOLDBERG

Please share your personal values and principles regarding health care insurance, delivery and outcomes.

I believe in universal health care and also the public option and mandate that the federal government did not incorporate into health care reform. I believe that part of our problem with the economics and costs of the federal program come from the compromises in the federal bill. Massachusetts got it right.

|[ TOP ]||[ Part C ]|

Goldberg/Related Experience

As a Lt. Governor in 2006 and since I have been a vocal advocate for health care reform and worked with elected leaders on the messaging and persuasion campaign around health care reform.

|[ TOP ]||[ Part C ]|

Policies and Proposals

Single Payer and Public Option

[Question C3] Do you support moving Massachusetts to Single Payer insurance?

  • SUPPORT: Goldberg
  • CONROY: Massachusetts is moving towards a single payer system for the vast majority of its citizens, and will continue to do so over the coming years.
  • FINEGOLD: No response

What role might a Public Option play, in your view?

  • CONROY: I support a public option as one alternative way to provide quality and affordable health insurance.
  • FINEGOLD: No response
  • GOLDBERG: Public option takes control away from the insurers most of whom are for profits. Health care is a right and should not be a for profit business.

|[ TOP ]||[ Part C ]|

Costs and Quality

[Question C4] What steps would you take to lower health care costs while maintaining or improving health outcomes?

|[ TOP ]||[ Part C ]|

Conroy

What steps would you take to lower health care costs while maintaining or improving health outcomes?

As Vice Chair of the Health Care Finance Committee last session, I immersed myself in our Commonwealth’s health care debate.  I read thousands of pages of reports and analysis, met with interested parties, and helped draft the Health Care Quality Improvement and Cost Containment Law of 2012.  This law caps health care spending in our state while encouraging new models of health care service, and focuses not on procedures, but on outcomes, positive results, and better health for our residents.

|[ TOP ]||[ Part C ]|

Finegold

What steps would you take to lower health care costs while maintaining or improving health outcomes?

No response

|[ TOP ]||[ Part C ]|

Goldberg

What steps would you take to lower health care costs while maintaining or improving health outcomes?

In 2006, I promoted the idea of forcing competition between the insurers in order to lower costs and deductibles. I believe lower deductibles allow people to seek care more readily and avoid catastrophic situations. In addition, we need to cover maintaining wellness not just acute situations.

|[ TOP ]||[ Part C ]|

Mental Health

[Question C5] What steps would you take to address the gap in affordable mental health services?

|[ TOP ]||[ Part C ]|

Conroy

What steps would you take to address the gap in affordable mental health services?

We must devote more resources toward the mental health of our residents.  We should be more forthright discussing mental health challenges, the needs in our society, and remove the labels and discrimination that all too often come with such a dialogue.  Mental health needs are more prevalent than many in our commonwealth want to acknowledge, limiting the amount of funding we devote to providing necessary mental health services.  We can and must do better in this area.  In addition, we should respect the dignity of the mentally ill by assisting them manage their own mental health care more fully.

|[ TOP ]||[ Part C ]|

Finegold

What steps would you take to address the gap in affordable mental health services?

No response

|[ TOP ]||[ Part C ]|

Goldberg

What steps would you take to address the gap in affordable mental health services?

Coverage for mental health should be as expansive as other health care issues. The limits of coverage merely touch the surface of what people truly need. Poor mental health also causes poor physical health. It only makes sense that we take a more comprehensive approach to mental health care. As Treasurer, I can continue to promote my positions through testimony and advocacy.

|[ TOP ]||[ Part C ]|

Health Disparities

[Question C6] What steps would you take to reduce racial and income disparities in health outcomes?

|[ TOP ]||[ Part C ]|

Conroy

What steps would you take to reduce racial and income disparities in health outcomes?

It is important that we continue to focus on and address income disparities in health outcomes.  For too long and far too often, the working poor and families at the lower end of the economic scale have not had access to affordable high quality healthcare.  These families, some who are the most vulnerable families within our communities, are sometimes facing extraordinary obstacles and navigating complex barriers that can prevent them from accessing timely preventative care.  We need to continue to address health disparity outcomes and craft creative legislative solutions where appropriate.

|[ TOP ]||[ Part C ]|

Finegold

What steps would you take to reduce racial and income disparities in health outcomes?

No response

|[ TOP ]||[ Part C ]|

Goldberg

What steps would you take to reduce racial and income disparities in health outcomes?

As a private individual I have helped promote programs in Holyoke, Lawrence, and Boston.

In Holyoke, a program I helped sponsor was education and outreach around access to proper care and how to avoid SID’s in young Latina women. In Lawrence I helped get funding for a Latino Nursing program that begins training of young people as early as in high school and prepares them for going into the nursing field. This program is through the Greater Lawrence Family Health Center. In both cases we were using culturally sensitive training and empowering people within their own communities to promote better health for themselves and their peers.

In Boston, I helped spearhead a program with two Tufts researchers, who do mainly community based research to develop vocational training that mitigates obesity in immigrant groups. We trained a group of women in nutrition and also taught them how to become personal fitness trainers. The results have been life changing and we are hoping to scale this project up.

These are just three examples of things I have done.

|[ TOP ]||[ Part C ]|

Implement Standards of Care and Costs Panel

[Question C7] Do you support establishing a state panel of experts (such as the Affordable Care Act’s IPAB/“Independent Payment Advisory Board”) to recommend high-value and cost-effective services?

  • SUPPORT: Conroy, Goldberg
  • FINEGOLD: No response

|[ TOP ]||[ Part C ]|

Pharmaceutical companies

[Question C8] Do you support prohibiting pharmaceutical companies from including direct-to-consumer drug advertising as tax-deductible expense?

  • SUPPORT: Conroy, Goldberg
  • FINEGOLD: No response

|[ TOP ]||[ Part C ]|

Bulk prescription programs

[Question C9] Do you support establishing a bulk prescription drug program that would provide lower cost prescription drugs for public employees?

  • SUPPORT: Conroy, Goldberg
  • FINEGOLD: No response
  • GOLDBERG: This was one of my platform in 2006.

Do you support establishing this same program for all Massachusetts residents?

  • SUPPORT: Goldberg
  • CONROY: I would like to study this issue more closely.  
  • FINEGOLD: No response

|[ TOP ]||[ Part C ]|

HOUSING

[Section D] In the last ten years, the need for affordable housing has increased, while funds for affordable housing have decreased, federal and state. Currently there is a 10-year waiting list for a rental voucher, and the average rent for a two bedroom apartment requires a wage 50% higher than the median Massachusetts wage. Half of families in Greater Boston alone pay over 30% of their income in housing and utilities costs – and 25% of households pay more than half their income to housing. This is unsustainable. It has led to expanding economic inequality, increased homelessness, and damage to our economy, as talented workers often leave the state for less expensive regions.

|[ TOP ]||[ Part D ]|

Statement/Experience

[Question D1/D2] Please share your personal values and principles regarding affordable housing. SUGGESTED TOPICS: How would you ensure that there is suitable housing for all who need it, within reasonable distance of job opportunities? How would you address the need to link housing, jobs and transportation? How would you tackle homelessness?

||[ TOP ]||[ Part D ]|

TOM CONROY

Please share your personal values and principles regarding affordable housing.

If we want to address the underlying and multi-faceted barriers to self-sufficiency, break the cycle of poverty and dependency on subsidized government programs, and create meaningful opportunities for the impoverished to get jobs and become economically independent, we need to reexamine the way we view our public assistance programs.  We need to take a holistic, comprehensive approach to assisting families experiencing a housing crisis and those living in subsidized housing.  Families will only be able to transition out of subsidized housing if we recognize and address all their needs, including access to education, job training, child care, and transportation.

We must not only ensure those who need housing assistance have access to it; we must lessen the cliff effect families encounter when transitioning out of subsidized housing.  We can lessen this effect by allowing families more work-related expense deductions.  Rather than increase rent share as families make more income, we can take that additional income and put it in escrow accounts for these families.  This additional savings can then be used for a down payment on a house, apartment, education, buying a car, or for any other related purpose.

It is unrealistic to expect those living in poverty to be able to change their circumstance simply because they obtain low-wage employment.  If we create the type of holistic programs that enable families to save money and keep their subsidized transportation, child care, and housing longer, families might have a chance to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty.

|[ TOP ]||[ Part D ]|

Conroy/Related Experience

Last fall, I championed a welfare reform bill aimed at investing $20 million into education, workforce, and training for those receiving public assistance and I managed its passage in the House of Representatives. This bill aimed to reduce the cliff effect referenced above by including an increase in the work-related expense deductions, providing additional funding for child care, and providing more support for families as they transition off of public assistance.

|[ TOP ]||[ Part D ]|

BARRY FINEGOLD

Please share your personal values and principles regarding affordable housing.

No response

|[ TOP ]||[ Part D ]|

DEBORAH GOLDBERG

Please share your personal values and principles regarding affordable housing.

Again, in my 2006 race for Lt. Gov. I was a strong advocate for increased affordable housing and the need to tie job creation, job training, transportation, and housing into a comprehensive program that coordinated all efforts instead of housing in one place, jobs in another, training elsewhere etc…which rendered each program ineffective in attacking inequality of opportunity.

|[ TOP ]||[ Part D ]|

Goldberg/Related Experience

I think the best example of my advocacy was that as Chairman of the Board of Selectmen I promoted affordable housing in my own neighborhood and withstood the anger of my neighbors some of whom have never rebuilt their relationship with me.

|[ TOP ]||[ Part D ]|

Policies and Proposals

Housing Authorities

[Question D3] Governor Patrick has proposed consolidating the Housing Authorities to six regional authorities, from the current 242 authorities. The legislature appears reluctant to agree to this reform, in part because it would reduce local control. What is your position?

  • Conroy: We need to do more to ensure that there are more affordable housing options throughout the entire state. I believe that we can achieve this goal while continuing to afford some local control over housing decisions.
  • Finegold: No Response
  • Goldberg: I am not sure – I do not know enough about this. Brookline Housing Authority is so well run and works so well for people that I would not want to endanger that. On the other hand, we have seen incredible abuse in other communities. Obviously something has to be done.

|[ TOP ]||[ Part D ]|

Affordable Housing

[Question D4.] What would you do to increase the number of affordable housing units in the State? What would you do to ensure that no low-income family has to spend more than 50% of their income on housing and related expenses; and that fewer than a quarter of families spending more than 33% of income on shelter?

|[ TOP ]||[ Part D ]|

Conroy

What would you do to increase the number of affordable housing units in the State?...

In my eight years in the Legislature, I have an exemplary record in supporting affordable housing initiatives despite the towns I represent voting in favor of the 40B repeal ballot initiative.  This fall I supported, advocated, and voted for a $1.4 billion housing bond bill to help families throughout the commonwealth find affordable and safe housing.  Under this legislation, we will modernize and invest in additional public housing, allow for home modifications for seniors and disabled homeowners, and extend the Massachusetts Low Income Housing Tax Credit.  In addition, we allocated $305 million for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund and $135 million for the Housing Stabilization Fund in order to provide additional resources and create affordable rental and homeownership opportunities throughout the state.

We must also do more to address the underlying issues for why too many families in our state need state subsidized housing.  More affordable housing, in all corners of our state, is likely one of the barriers to emerging out of poverty and an issue that the state needs to continue to address.  Under legislation I authored and hope will become law in 2014, a commission will be created to study poverty throughout the commonwealth and how poverty can be reduced by joining together the public, private and non-profit sectors.  Through this commission, we have an opportunity to research and study the root causes of poverty, income inequality, violence, educational barriers, and the potential long-term municipal and state government savings that can result from effective poverty reduction initiatives.

|[ TOP ]||[ Part D ]|

Finegold

What would you do to increase the number of affordable housing units in the State?...

No Response

|[ TOP ]||[ Part D ]|

Goldberg

What would you do to increase the number of affordable housing units in the State?...

I believe the Governor, Legislature and local communities need to do a lot more to reduce the cost of housing in MA! I support that effort.

|[ TOP ]||[ Part D ]|

Temporary Housing Transitions

[Question D5] What would you do to move homeless families and individuals out of motels and shelters and into permanent housing?

|[ TOP ]||[ Part D ]|

Conroy

What would you do to move homeless families and individuals out of motels and shelters and into permanent housing?

Too many families in our state are being housed in shelters, hotels and motels.  Far too often these families are temporarily housed in cities and towns far away from their jobs, their children’s schools, their extended families, and community support.  Even during these tough economic times, we must increase funding and the amount of resources we dedicate to addressing this problem.  At the same time, we need more affordable housing for these families to transition into.  It is essential that we prioritize long-term investments over short-term quick fixes.  The return on investment in getting families out of motels and hotels and into long-term affordable housing units is clear.

|[ TOP ]||[ Part D ]|

Finegold

What would you do to move homeless families and individuals out of motels and shelters and into permanent housing?

No Response

|[ TOP ]||[ Part D ]|

Goldberg

What would you do to move homeless families and individuals out of motels and shelters and into permanent housing?

Support every proposed program.

|[ TOP ]||[ Part D ]|

Regulation Reform, Development and Preservation

[Question D6] Would you support reforms to update our outmoded zoning, subdivision, and planning laws, in such a way as to encourage balanced development and land preservation?

  • SUPPORT: Conroy, Goldberg
  • FINEGOLD: No response

|[ TOP ]||[ Part D ]|

REVENUE AND TAXATION

[Section E.] Because of income tax cuts and the effects of the recession, Massachusetts has lost nearly $3 billion in revenue over the last 12 years. We now collect less revenue than 21 other states, and our tax revenue is below the national average. Since 1982, local aid has dropped 58%. Cuts to the moderately progressive state income tax have meant increasing reliance on fees, sales, gas and property taxes, exacerbating the overall regressiveness of our revenue. Regressive taxation strains low- and middle-income families, and reduced revenue collection curtails our ability to invest in vital infrastructure.

|[ TOP ]||[ Part E ]|

Statement/Experience

[Question E1/E2] What principles do you bring to considerations of state revenue and tax reform (individual and corporate)? SUGGESTED TOPIC: How should we raise more revenue to adequately fund our communities for the future?

|[ TOP ]||[ Part E ]|

TOM CONROY

What principles do you bring to considerations of state revenue and tax reform (individual and corporate)?

Currently, we spend billions of dollars each year on critical state programs including: health care, child care, housing, and public assistance, among others.  We spend far less investing in opportunities for the working families dependent on these programs in order to provide them with the necessary tools to emerge out of a life of poverty and provide a better life for themselves and their children.

Today, approximately 75 percent of the state budget is consumed by spending on subsidized health care, human services and education, with another 12 percent allocated for fixed debt service and pension costs.  This leaves only 13 percent of the state’s revenue available for transportation, public safety, housing, job training, and economic development – all of which are vital for the economic future of our state.

There are countless ways to raise revenue.  One example of a new revenue generating idea is a bill I authored this session, a carbon tax.  Under this revenue-raising mechanism, we could protect our environment, preserve choices for businesses and consumers, and set up a mechanism designed to spur statewide innovation and economic growth.  This is just one example of the type of creative idea that could be explored as we create a new vision for our budget going forward.

|[ TOP ]||[ Part E ]|

Conroy/Related Experience

This session, I co-sponsored legislation which will distinguish Massachusetts as a leader in climate change policy.  Under this legislation, An Act relative to shifting from carbon emissions to transportation investment, we recognized the effects of individual carbon use on climate change policy and strived to achieve four overarching goals.  First, we created a carbon tax – or anti-pollution tax –as an effective mechanism to change behavior in a positive manner, preserve choices for businesses and consumers, and reduce the amount of greenhouse gases (GHG) emitted in our commonwealth.  Second, we set up a mechanism designed to spur statewide innovation and economic growth in the form of new alternatives to fossil fuel use. Third, this legislation is designed to be a part of a larger conversation addressing our state’s ongoing transportation and revenue needs.  Finally, this legislation is flexible, progressive, and much of the revenue raised through the tax would be returned to low-income families.

During my eight years as a legislator, I also initiated laws that will protect taxpayers and retiree benefits at the same time.  I authored a comprehensive study that detailed fiscally sound ways to keep our retiree benefit plans solvent by using non-tax revenues to fund our ongoing pension and other post-employee benefit obligations.  By utilizing dedicated non-tax revenues to fund ongoing debt obligations, we can serve the Commonwealth’s best interests, create a sustainable system going forward, and maintain a sense of fairness to public sector employees and private sector taxpayers.

|[ TOP ]||[ Part E ]|

BARRY FINEGOLD

What principles do you bring to considerations of state revenue and tax reform (individual and corporate)?

As Treasurer, my goal will be to make Massachusetts the most fiscally responsible state, which will raise our bond rating and allow us to borrow at a lower cost.

|[ TOP ]||[ Part E ]|

DEBORAH GOLDBERG

What principles do you bring to considerations of state revenue and tax reform (individual and corporate)?

The misnomer of the title Taxachusetts has continued unwarranted for years. Yes, we are a very expensive state to live in but more of that comes from the regressive nature of our taxation beginning with 2 ½% and onward, tagging increased fees onto everything and using parking meters to raise revenues. When Mike Dukakis was Governor he created a tax amnesty for evaders (tax evasion is not a victimless crime) and was able to provide additional funding. I would like to look into that kind of program to potentially help fund the unfunded pension liability to remove that liability from the budget and free up more funds for spending on services.

|[ TOP ]||[ Part E ]|

Goldberg/Related Experience

In Brookline we have a residential tax exemption that shifts the tax rate burden to above the median. It is a public policy position that gives a complete exemption from the first $100,000 and helps those in more moderate housing. The exemption was under attack and I supported the continuation of it as good public policy.

|[ TOP ]||[ Part E ]|

Policies and Proposals

Tax Rates for Upper Incomes

[Question E3] Do you support increasing income taxes on the wealthiest residents of Massachusetts?

  • SUPPORT: Conroy, Goldberg
  • FINEGOLD: No response.

|[ TOP ]||[ Part E ]|

Automatic Tax Decrease Triggers

[Question E4] Do you support halting the automatic decrease in state tax when Massachusetts state revenues grow four quarters in a row?

  • SUPPORT: Conroy, Goldberg
  • FINEGOLD: No response.
|[ TOP ]||[ Part E ]|

Capital Gains

[Question E5] Do you support increasing the capital gains tax (with safeguards to protect seniors)?

  • SUPPORT: Conroy, Goldberg
  • FINEGOLD: No response.

|[ TOP ]||[ Part E ]|

Progressive Taxation

[Question E6] “An Act to Invest in Our Communities” was designed to raise significant revenue while making our tax code more progressive, but it has not passed the legislature. Would you support a renewed effort to pass this or similar legislation?

  • SUPPORT: Conroy, Goldberg
  • FINEGOLD: No response.

|[ TOP ]||[ Part E ]|

Corporate Tax Breaks

[Question E7] Do you support eliminating or substantially reducing corporate tax breaks?         

  • SUPPORT: Goldberg
  • CONROY: I continue to work closely with my colleagues on this issue, particularly House Revenue Committee Chair Jay Kaufman.  I have read and have a keen understanding of the myriad corporate tax credits that exist in our tax code.  While some make sense – for example, tax credits for hiring the handicapped – there are too many corporate tax breaks overall.  Dozens of industries have at least one, and thus corporate tax reform becomes an issue in which achieving fairness becomes particularly complicated.  I will continue to study this issue and work with my colleagues to craft legislative solutions where appropriate.
  • FINEGOLD: No response.

|[ TOP ]||[ Part E ]|

Do you support repealing or significantly reducing the Film Production Tax Credit?

  • OPPOSE: Goldberg
  • CONROY: I continue to study this issue closely.  Since introducing the Film Production Tax Credit, many states have duplicated our program and this has diminished its use and effectiveness.  I also continue to pay close attention to the Department of Revenue’s reports on the effectiveness of the Tax Credit program.  As treasurer, I would conduct my own analysis of this program in order to gain a better understanding of its effectiveness.
  • FINEGOLD: No response.

|[ TOP ]||[ Part E ]|

Clawbacks and Transparency in Corporate Tax Breaks

[Question E8] Do you support increasing corporate tax break transparency and clawback provisions?

  • SUPPORT: Conroy, Goldberg
  • FINEGOLD: I do support some clawbacks. If a corporation does not meet the conditions of the tax break, they should have to return that money to the state.

|[ TOP ]||[ Part E ]|

Graduated Income Tax

[Question E9] Would you support a state constitutional amendment creating a Massachusetts progressive income tax?

  • SUPPORT: Conroy, Goldberg
  • FINEGOLD: No response

|[ TOP ]||[ Part E ]|

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS

Use this space to add any other issues important to your vision for Massachusetts or any other matter you think progressive voters should know about your candidacy.

|[ TOP ]||[ Section Start ]|

TOM CONROY

Use this space to add any other issues important to your vision for Massachusetts or any other matter you think progressive voters should know about your candidacy.

If elected your next state treasurer, I will lead by example, based on sound principles such as far-sighted financial management and core values such as economic justice and creating opportunities for all.  I will offer compassion for the less fortunate, tempered by the need for responsible and accountable budgeting.  I will respect for the covenant we have made with public sector employees and their retirement benefits, while having the foresight to ensure the solvency of our pension system.  I will encourage a vibrant business community and public-private partnerships, while preserving the rights of employees to earn living wages in stable work environments.
This balancing act between compassion and prudence, between heart and head is critical for our future.  I carry this sense of balance within me each day, and I want to apply it successfully as our next state treasurer.

|[ TOP ]||[ Section Start ]|

BARRY FINEGOLD

Use this space to add any other issues important to your vision for Massachusetts or any other matter you think progressive voters should know about your candidacy.

In this questionnaire, I focused on the questions that are applicable to the Treasurer’s office. I’d also like to elaborate on some of my positions on issues under the control of the Treasurer:

Lottery [Finegold]

I recognize the importance of lottery funds in bringing back money to our local communities, but believe that we must do all we can to ensure that our state gaming policies do not prey on the poor or the vulnerable. For that reason, I opposed the expanded gaming bill. I do not support expanding keno and lottery sales on line, nor do I support allowing credit card payments for scratch tickets at convenience stores as I believe both would increase addictive gaming behavior in our state. After learning more, I may be open to allowing fantasy sports in a limited fashion. Additionally, I would like to increase funding for resources that deal with addictive gaming behavior.|[ back to Section Start ]|

Pension Fund [Finegold]

I believe that our pension fund should reflect our values. Currently, approximately 2.6% of the Massachusetts Pension Reserves Investment Trust (PRIT) Core is invested in fossil fuels, totaling approximately $1.4 billion in investments. These investments run counter to our state efforts to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and promote renewable energy and efficiency. It was for similar reasons that the Legislature passed, and I voted for, a law divesting from tobacco-related companies in 1997.

The Asset Owners Disclosure Project, a group that seeks to "protect" funds from the risk of climate change, recently gave Massachusetts pension fund a “D” rating, far below the AAA given to California's state pension fund. Additionally, a recent study conducted by the Associated Press and S&P Capital IQ found a fossil fuel-free portfolio would have outperformed one that included fossil fuel investments over the past 10 years. The study found that a $1 billion fossil fuel-free college endowment would have grown to $2.26 billion over the past 10 years, while an endowment that included investments in fossil fuel companies would have grown to only $2.14 billion. These numbers demonstrate that it is worth exploring whether we can have a successfully performing PRIT while promoting renewable energy and efficiency.

If, and only if, we can do so gradually and in a manner that does not negatively affect returns, I would be open to a divestment from fossil fuels. |[ back to Section Start ]|

Financial literacy [Finegold]

Some of the most important work I have done as a State Senator has involved promoting financial literacy, and it is a mission I want to continue working on as State Treasurer. I serve on the Financial Literacy Trust Fund (FLTF), led by Treasurer Grossman, and recently led the effort to pass legislation in the Senate that would add the FLTF as one of the groups that taxpayers can choose to donate to on their tax forms. Additionally, I filed a successful amendment to the welfare reform bill that required DTA to require TAFDC recipients to participate in a free financial education program to assist in developing their economic independence goals.

Last session, I filed a bill that would have required financial literacy to be integrated into the math curriculum in all Massachusetts schools. Working with stakeholders, we created a pilot program in high schools in 10 Gateway Cities to plan and pilot financial literacy programs. This is a 3-year pilot program and I am hopeful that it will serve as a model for statewide implementation in the future. Between huge student loans and offers of credit cards, our children are now faced with massive financial decisions so early in life that we must equip them with the knowledge to make responsible financial decisions. |[ back to Section Start ]|

Massachusetts School Building Authority [Finegold]

In order to give our kids a 21st century education, we cannot have classrooms from the 60’s and 70’s. I want to build more schools and reduce the long waiting list by expanding the model school building program, because there is a best way to build a science lab and a gym.

Additionally, I would like to explore the possibility of creating a Massachusetts Building Authority in the model of the MSBA in order to help municipalities with funding for non-school buildings such as police and fire stations. |[ back to Section Start ]|

Additional comments [Finegold]

I have taken some tough votes while representing a district that is historically conservative. Votes such as my votes to raise revenue, in support of gay marriage and against the death penalty were often the source of extremely strong criticism in my district, but I always voted my conscience and worked extremely hard to get re-elected each term against formidable Republican challengers. |[ back to Section Start ]|

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DEBORAH GOLDBERG

Use this space to add any other issues important to your vision for Massachusetts or any other matter you think progressive voters should know about your candidacy.

It is with my values and my experience of how to run a business with a conscience that I bring to the role of Treasurer. I will use my business skills and finance background to promote policies that are fiscally responsible and economically innovative, protecting our state’s resources, our people’s resources, and increasing financial growth, with a strong focus of especially strengthening the retirement security of our seniors. I will also increase investment in local communities by making more state funds available to small business owners throughout the state. And, very importantly, make sure we empower everyone, particularly women, young people, immigrants, and people of color with a robust state-wide financial literacy program which will prepare those most at risk from situations such as the predatory practices of the sub-prime mortgage crisis that nearly caused our economy to collapse just a few short years ago.

I intend to use the role of the Treasurer as a bully pulpit and an example of progressive values. Additionally, not only will I push for the things I believe in, my internal staff will be a reflection of the diversity of our culture, as it should be.

That’s why I’m running for Treasurer of Massachusetts.  It would be an honor to be your Treasurer. But I can’t do it alone.  I hope you will join our team, vote for me as a delegate in June and I would very much appreciate your vote on September 9th in the Democratic Primary.

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PDF VERSION: TREASURER'S RACE QUESTIONNAIRE RESPONSES

CANDIDATES' ORIGINAL RESPONSES: 

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commented 2014-09-03 11:14:17 -0400 · Flag
Tom Conroy seems head and shoulders above the others
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