+ REBUILDING OUR TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM
Everywhere I have been in Massachusetts – more than 120 communities – I have heard people’s deep frustration and unhappiness about transportation. Whether you are on the North or the South Shore, whether you are trying to create a business near a gateway city, whether you are stuck in traffic for nearly two hours to go 40 miles, whether you are a single mom trying to get your child to day care and then to your job on an unreliable bus, whether you would like to live in Springfield and Worcester and commute quickly to Boston, you are in trouble. That means we, as a state, are in trouble.
We know from looking around the world that this kind of crisis cannot be solved by small, baby-step approaches. We need a plan – a strong, bold plan worthy of Massachusetts past and future -- for reaching our long-term goals of a world class transportation system for Massachusetts. That plan will include a series of immediate improvements and a larger list of transformations of our infrastructure.
It will also include changes in how we do business and how we are accountable to the public.
You simply cannot build a strong future economy without safe, modern transportation. Our poor transportation system undermines our prosperity, promotes inequality, and limits opportunity, especially for our already disadvantaged gateway communities. The Baker administration has done little other than outsource projects and operations, shuffle management, squeeze labor agreements and adopt low-cost, but wasteful, patchwork temporary improvements. He has focused more on ineffective cost controls than on improving transportation services.
And let’s not forget that it was Charlie Baker, who, as Secretary of Administration and Finance under Governor Weld, who thought up the great idea of burdening the T with the costs of the Big Dig! In most parts of the country, fees on gas, cars, and road help to pay for public transportation. In Massachusetts we tax those who use public transportation to pay for our highways. And Baker has have no plan to change that. Kicking the can down the decaying roadway is a Charlie Baker specialty.
As Governor, I will take immediate steps to provide improve our transportation experience, and I will follow up with serious, adult plans to solve our persistent and dangerous transportation gaps across the commonwealth.
- Take responsibility for, and stop privatizing our operations and our repairs
- Commit to world-class public transit and invest to achieve that level of service, well beyond the current minimal goal of a state of “good repair”
- Scrap patchwork wasteful projects, including the South Station Expansion project and the South Coast Rail non-electrified alternate route and instead move ahead with the North South Rail Link (NSRL), and the original South Coast route
- Speed up service and increase frequency on East-West rail services and initiate discussions, partnering with the State of New York to cut travel time in half between Boston and Albany with a new Pittsfield area tunnel
- Adopt the goal of fully electrified and reliable bus and commuter rail networks and work with Amtrak to explore electrifying the Downeaster service to NH and Maine
- Enact shared streets policies across the Commonwealth to speed up bus services and provide safe, locally appropriate bike lanes, connected bikeways and pedestrian amenities
- Increase the planning capacities (particularly with respect to rail, bus and ferry capabilities) of state transport agencies and ensure that all projects are reviewed for consistency with long term goals
We all depend on our roads and bridges, our car and trains, our buses and our bikes. We need to replace the attitude that “we can’t afford to fix this” with the understanding that we can’t afford NOT to fix it. We need vision, leadership, commitment and understanding that the status quo is no longer acceptable. Massachusetts deserves the best. We need to build it now.
+ RE-POWERING OUR ECONOMY WITH RENEWABLES
My energy plan will build a prosperous and sustainable future for the commonwealth, where everyone gets to participate, every resident and family benefits, while we protect the future of our planet.
- Stop sending billions of our dollars out of state to pay for polluting fossil fuel
- Commit to developing the greatest wind resources on the eastern seaboard, assuring that Massachusetts becomes the center for the US wind industry
- Remove regulatory barriers that choke off smart changes in utility regulation, like net metering caps, opening the way for more solar installations
- Accelerate the transition to electric vehicles, by converting to an all-electric state vehicle fleet by 2030
- Provide income tax adjustments and job retraining to ease the transition, and drive the majority of renewables jobs to our gateway cities
- Reduce energy consumption levels to make the Commonwealth the most efficient state, improving our public health, reducing household costs and raising our livability ranking
- Create an Energy Innovation Roundtable to bring our best ideas quickly to the forefront and implement funding innovations like a Green Bank
Massachusetts #1 In Renewables Generation
We can harvest the biggest growth opportunity the Commonwealth has ever seen, by capitalizing on what nature provides us. Massachusetts has some of the best off-shore wind potential in the nation. We could turn renewables into the largest single sector in the state’s economy, with a new off shore wind industry and a balanced base of expanded solar and hydroelectric supplies. Massachusetts could become the first state to have an electricity-driven economy, drive fossil fuels out of transportation and building heating, stabilize energy costs, and bring thousands of new jobs to the state, while we make everything we do more competitive on a global scale.
Liberation from Fossil Fuels
This fossil fuel ride we are on, with endlessly increasing prices and continued pollution contributing to climate change, has us struggling to stay within family budgets. Some would have us believe that we can only get off this path if we are willing to pay more for clean power, but we send $20 billion out of state every year for fossil fuels. And Charlie Baker wants to expand our fossil fuel infrastructure and lock us into a paying for dirty fuel for another 40 years. If we seize our potential with renewables, we will drive down costs and climate effects together, while driving up job opportunities and our economy here in Massachusetts. We can become a massive net exporter of clean wind energy, bringing clean energy and new income into the state.
Our region’s history started with the wind that drove the Mayflower to our shores. That same wind can now be harnessed to carry us forward to a better future. There is no more time to waste. The risk of stalling and studying while standing still could permanently jeopardize our opportunity as others build the energy industries of the future.
+ COMBATING CLIMATE CHANGE
Our Climate Action Plan has five components:
- Take joint actions on climate goals (e.g.,on vehicle fuel economy, electric car rebate programs, and participating in joint research projects with other states to address climate impacts)
- Make Massachusetts the first all renewables-powered state economy, driving down fossil fuel use through carbon pricing, and other measures
- Reduce building energy consumption while growing the economy, through promotion of netzero/passive construction regulations
- Upgrade transportation infrastructure so that offerings are desirable, comfortable and reliable, to shift demand to more energy-efficient, renewables-powered transport alternatives, making it easier for us to meet our climate goals while reducing vehicular traffic congestion
- Implement a plan to protect as much of our coastal development as makes economic sense, with costs offset by benefit-capture taxes from the property owners and insurers who benefit from those actions
We are at a critical point, with rising temperatures already affecting climate, and secondary impacts on public safety, public health and food production. In the next two decades alone, we could see catastrophic property loses in ocean-facing communities. And yet, we have no leadership from our current governor or from our Republican-dominated Congress on climate change, the most important issue facing humanity in the 21st century. We need strong leadership in our state to reshape programs to meet the challenge of climate change and plan for likely consequences due to decades of half measures and refusal to accept scientific evidence. We need to work with neighboring states in the region and to participate in state-to-state compacts, including able partners like California, New York and Washington. We need actions that will help us meet national climate action goals in the Paris agreement. Strong leadership means more than just signing a compact, which, yes, our current governor eventually did. The action alone is far from sufficient to meet today's challenges. Strong leadership means actively working with other states, leading the charge, and stepping up the pace of the state commitments in key areas to support those compacts. Charlie Baker is most definitely NOT doing any of that.
The Commonwealth needs to take these climate actions, not just because they will contribute to saving the life-affirming planet we live on. But because these climate-saving actions are right for our economy, for producing jobs, for improving public health, for improving public safety in the face of increasingly extreme weather events and because doing so recognizes the interactions between climate-related actions, and our efforts in other areas to ensure a vibrant, growing economy and reducing health care costs, to name a few.
+ FIGHTING FOR WOMEN'S RIGHTS
From the first day day of the Trump administration we have seen an uprising of women determined to fight back against the assault on their rights, their health and their dignity. On January 21st, I was pleased to join 125,000 people in Boston while my wife and daughter marched with countless more in DC. They were great events but strongly colored by our disbelief that we had to fight for these issues in this day and age.
It is incredible that we still need to say that women should be paid fairly for their work. And they need to be safe - on the streets, in their workplaces, college campuses, and in their homes. The recent #metoo campaign has shown a bright light on the distance we have yet to travel for women to be equal in our society.
In politics, we talk a lot about families and how important they are, but we have yet to enact serious family leave policies, to provide critical daycare resources and universal Pre-K schooling. We need to understand the particular pressures for working mothers, particularly when they are single parents. We recently spent time in Scandinavia where all these things are routine. Why, as Americans, should we expect less?
I support a women's right to choose and the right to healthcare of all-kinds, including contraceptive care prenatal and maternal and child care.
The crisis right now is to protect the gains of the Obama policies. The ACA has made access to the full range of contraceptive methods available to some 62.4 million women, according to Planned Parenthood of Massachusetts -1.4 million in Massachusetts alone. This has contributed to a decline in abortions, now at their lowest level in over 40 years. Under the new Trump rules, women's access to birth control will be subject to the whim of their employer or college. Some of the most effective and costly methods will simply move out of financial reach for many.
I applaud Attorney General Healey for taking immediate legal action to block implementation of the Trump administration rules, and challenge them as unconstitutional and I urge Massachusetts Legislature to immediately pass Contraceptive ACCESS bill (H.536/ S.499) to make ACA Contraceptive coverage the law in our state.
+ AN ECONOMY FOR OUR COMMON WEALTH
While the debate about luring Amazon to Massachusetts has been swirling in the paper, a smaller, sadder – but very significant -- story has been overlooked. Elwood Adams, the oldest hardware store in America, which opened in Worcester an astounding 235 years ago and operating continuously ever since, is finally being forced to close because of big box behemoths like Home Depot and the online convenience of Amazon.
When we trade small, local, personal retail operations for the national chain stores, we lose connections, service, and investment in the community. We gain low prices, which have become essential in this economy of low wages, but those low prices also come at great cost to workers and to the communities they live in. Home Depot has 340,000 employees of which only 6% (21,000) are full time. The big businesses corner more and more of the market, pay lower and lower wages and squeeze suppliers driving manufacturing out of the country. And they accumulate wealth and political power out of all proportion. The top three employers in the US are Walmart, McDonald’s, and YUM (a consortium of fast food businesses). They return a profit for their shareholders and executives but they invest in lobbyists, not in their workforces and not in our communities. There is something really wrong when a stable company like Elwood Adams cannot not request a tax break from a struggling city like Worcester, but the city was prepared to offer hundreds of millions to Amazon in deferred taxes.
Our economy is upside down; productivity has increased 70% in 40 years but wages have gone up only 8%. We need a more inclusive and more democratic economy that supports working people and our local communities. Fortunately, we live in a time when hundreds of “new economy” organizations are popping up around the country to create local jobs through local capital. When I was president of the New Economy Coalition, I worked every day with creative organizations such as the American Sustainable Business Council, Business Alliance for Living Local Economies, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, Shareable, the Post Carbon Institute, the Labor Network for Sustainability, the Transition Town movement, the Capital Institute, the Democracy Collaborative, B Lab, Slow Money, and dozens of others. The tools and lessons they are developing need to find voice, support, and expression in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts – and I am the only candidate with the knowledge, familiarity, and experience to make that happen.
As governor, I will:
- Support the Raise Up Agenda ($15 minimum wage, paid family leave, and the Fair Share tax), but make it just the beginning of helping working households
- Build a local green jobs economy in partnership with the hundreds of innovative projects already under way in many Massachusetts communities
- Support new community and cooperative ownership models, some of which have a much longer history in the state than the limited liability corporation
- Connect citizens and businesses in new ways by building new infrastructure including transportation and WIFI across the commonwealth
- Review and reform regulations that create barriers to entry for small businesses
- Support local economies by encouraging institutional procurements
- Support part-time workers with healthcare for all, day care and pre-K, and pension opportunities
- Support free public education first moving towards debt-free college education,then implementing free tuition
- Create debt free education options for our workforce
The New Economy is already rising up in our midst, thanks to the creativity of hundreds of thousands of Americans. Now we need a governor who understands these forces and can support their growing and positive impact on our local communities.
+ SINGLE-PAYER HEALTHCARE
I support Medicare for All for the United States. If we cannot achieve that at the federal level, I support through a Single-Payer program in Massachusetts. If no federal initiative is forthcoming, I will work to find a path to Single-Payer within the Commonwealth or the Northeast.
This is not a commitment of convenience. I was born with a severe genetic condition – hemophilia – and throughout my childhood my parents worried every day that I would be kicked off of their health insurance policy. Our completely screwed up health insurance system actually pushes companies to give the best insurance to people who are healthy and to exclude those who actually need medical care. This is morally cruel and economically damaging for the whole country.
I am able to walk today because I received health care in another country where I was a foreign resident. In other words, my commitment to single-payer care and to healthcare as a right has been burned into my bones.
My first major policy speech in this campaign was titled “Moral Imagination and Political Success in Healthcare”, which argued that the right to healthcare has already been well established and is articulated in some of America’s most important documents and that universal healthcare is an essential element of our freedom.
By ensuring that every citizen has access to the basic building blocks of a decent human life, we are liberating them. In seeking healthcare as a right -- health care for everyone regardless of income or medical condition – we are not doing people favors. We are not arguing on behalf of “entitlements”, a slimy word that manages to sound like people are getting something they don’t deserve. The word “entitlement” means “the belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment.” What do we all think of people who believe they deserve privileges and special treatment? Such a concept stings because it runs against the principle of fairness.
Our Constitution, a key founding document, which counts as sacred within our secular order, enshrines the principle that we have an inalienable right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. This is one of several “truths” that are “self-evident.” You simply cannot have “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” without access to healthcare. Health care is therefore not a privilege, but a right. Indeed, it is an inalienable right - one that cannot be taken away.
I was a supporter of Don Berwick (former head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services under President Obama) when he ran for governor of Massachusetts. His wise and visionary approach still very much guides me as we seek to secure for Americans what the citizens of most countries already have: a strong, reliable, and universal system of coverage. Let’s work together to move us rapidly towards the only system that makes both moral and economic sense for the Commonwealth today – a Single-Payer system of healthcare that covers everyone from birth to death.
+ PROTECTING OUR IMMIGRANT COMMUNITIES
From our founding to today, Massachusetts has always benefited from immigrants and immigration. The hard conversations about what we as Americans want our immigration system to look like has suffered from neglect by Republican controlled congresses for decades. The loudest, most extreme voices are currently defining the conversation with misleading information and divisive scare tactics.
We as a state cannot change federal immigration law. However, we control and define who we want to be as a community. We are best positioned to serve as an example to the nation that at our core we are all immigrants. Diversity is our strength. Hard work by immigrants -- from day laborers to tech CEOs -- is and will always be the backbone of our society. We can change the conversation and raise our voices above those who want to scapegoat immigrants for political gain. I support the Safe Communities Act. Until that passes at the state level, I will support all local referenda that implement Safe Communities Act protections. I believe in keeping our law enforcement officers focused on the true threats to our communities. Community policing is a critical tool in keeping our communities safe. Trump and the Justice Department’s moves to abuse our valuable law enforcement resources to enforce civil detainers from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and use them as a blunt instrument against vulnerable populations is both immoral and a threat to our safety. I wholeheartedly reject using immigrants as scapegoats to create division and fear, I was pleased by a recent Superior Court ruling that state law "provides no authority for Massachusetts court officers to arrest and hold an individual solely on the basis of a Federal civil immigration detainer, beyond the time that the individual would otherwise be entitled to be released from State custody." But we need to do more. My mother is a first-generation Swiss immigrant. She grew up speaking French at home and English at school. Being raised in the United States gave my mother significant advantages. The wonderful education she received in the Pennsylvania public school system allowed her to become the first member of her family to attend college. I was able to make the next generational steps forward on the basis of my family’s sacrifices. I have not forgotten my immigrant roots. Except for our fellow citizens who trace their heritage to our Native American populations, we all trace our origins to immigrants. This is what has made our country strong. I support America’s traditional role as a nation that welcomes “your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
Unlike Governor Baker, who was too easily swayed by the false narrative that linked refugees to the ills of society and questioned whether Massachusetts should accept Syrian women and children refugees.
Unlike Governor Baker who has pushed legislation to use valuable law enforcement resources to pick up undocumented people in our state for no other reason than the civil violation of their visa status.
I support the immigrants in our Commonwealth. They are our friends, neighbors, our children’s care takers, our children’s friends. Many recent immigrants are already key parts of our economy; they take care of our parents, build our houses, make our food, fix our cars, and program our computers. We in Massachusetts understand the value of immigrants. Equally important, we understand how to think with clarity, compassion, and common sense about the complex challenges and opportunities that immigration presents.
+ DEFENDING AND EXPANDING LGBTQ RIGHTS
There is no place for discrimination in Massachusetts. Having been born with hemophilia, and then having contracted HIV through transfusions, I have my own experience with discrimination and prejudice. I have spoken up for the rights of HIV/AIDS patients since 1984, and my career has been dedicated to fighting for racial, social and environmental equity.
If elected, I will work closely with the LGBTQ community to defend and expand the gains won through their tireless advocacy for equality.
This will include:
• Working to join the 9 other states that have banned so called “conversion therapy” for minors, a practice opposed by the American Psychiatric Association • Supporting LGBT awareness training for Aging Service Providers, including support for SB346 to protect LGBTQ older adults from homophobia and transphobia • Improving sex education in schools so that curriculum is accurate, age-appropriate and comprehensive • Lifting barriers to accessing HIV and STI prevention, screening and treatment by expanding access to prevention services for minors; studying out-of-network insurance coverage of HIV/STI screening services; and updating HIV screening and record-sharing laws • Expanding support for homeless youth, many of whom are LGBTQ, so that they get the support they need, and can control their own futures • Expanding protections for the confidentiality of sensitive healthcare services on insurance statements, which is vital for LGBTQ youth, minors, people with HIV/AIDS and those on another person's health plan
I also will vigorously oppose the attempt by a small number of citizens to overturn the recent protections created for transgender citizens. The original law -- SB 2407 -- prohibited discrimination based on gender identity in public businesses or other places open to the general public, such as hotels, stores, restaurants, theaters, sports stadiums, and hospitals. The attack on the law is part of a larger national attempt to block anti-discrimination legislation by arguing that those who disagree with the provisions on religious or moral grounds should be permitted to ignore them. While I respect the first amendment rights of a person who disagrees with the law, I oppose this attempt to exempt from responsibility those who wish to discriminate against their fellow citizens.
In the end, I agree with Deborah Shields, executive director of MassEquality, who believes that voters will reject this ballot initiative. “The people of Massachusetts have a deep and long history of promoting fairness and inclusion,” Shields said. When the question “of whether to continue to treat transgender people as equal members of our society ends up before Massachusetts voters in 2018, we are confident they will vote to retain the law and affirm the values of justice and equality that are the hallmarks of our Commonwealth.”
+ HOUSING FOR OUR COMMONWEALTH
To have a safe, comfortable home is one of the most fundamental elements of human happiness. Housing is the fundamental base for all prosperity. All the way back in 1944, President Franklin D. Roosevelt said that our right to liberty as Americans included the “the right of every family to a decent home.” Without safe, secure, and affordable housing, no one can thrive and participate fully in our economy or our society, and it is a core function of government, in partnership with private enterprise, to ensure that this basic human need is met.
All across the Commonwealth a shortage of affordable housing is damaging people’s lives. Low-income people, particularly people of color, are being displaced from their neighborhoods by rising housing costs. Young people, hampered by educational debt, cannot afford to buy a first home. Many communities, hit hard by the mortgage scams, face a crisis of foreclosures. Seniors who wish to stay in their homes cannot afford maintenance and rising fuel costs.
Housing, job locations and wages are increasingly out of whack in the Commonwealth. We need more housing in some areas, more jobs in others, and more affordability everywhere. We must work to balance activities across all 351 cities and towns, aligning jobs with housing and housing with jobs. We can take actions that reduce economic inequality, improve transportation and open up lower cost solutions to our strained infrastructure. I will pursue a multipronged approach to creating the housing we need, where we need it, and to making it possible for jobs to be located more easily where we have available housing stock and accessible transit.
Inequality is not only about wages - it is about equity. According to the Federal Reserve Bank’s Color of Wealth in Boston study,
*While most white households (56 percent) own retirement accounts, only one-fifth of U.S and Caribbean blacks have them. Only 8 percent of Dominicans and 16 percent of Puerto Ricans have such accounts. Most whites—79 percent—own a home, whereas only one-third of U.S. blacks, less than one-fifth of Dominicans
[In Boston] nonwhite households have only a fraction of the net worth attributed to white households. While white households have a median wealth of $247,500, Dominicans and U.S. blacks have a median wealth of close to zero. Of all nonwhite groups or which estimates could be made, Caribbean black households have the highest median wealth with $12,000, which is only 5 percent of the wealth attributed to white households in the Boston MSA.*
African-American and Hispanic households were disproportionately harmed by the recession and have taken longer to recover and much of the difficult can be traced to these different rates of home ownership and wealth accumulation. Buying and keeping a residence has been the primary way for people to accumulate wealth and rise into the middle class.
Our system of building affordable housing has become twisted in knots attempting to align free market ideology with the needs of those who cannot pay market rates. Left to its own logic, the housing market will provide luxury housing for the benefit of the wealthy and developers’ profit. Many households are priced out of the markets but ineligible for subsidized housing. We must simplify the structure of public-private partnerships and state subsidies to assure that taxpayer dollars are used efficiently to create long term sustainable housing for those in need. Including a stable supply of affordable rental housing protected from the forces of gentrification.
To make this possible for all people we need to:
- Protect families from displacement, foreclosures and homelessness that are damaging rural and urban communities across the state
- Preserve rental housing with incentives for keeping rents low paired with renovation and energy efficiency credits
- Facilitate permitting for adding rental units to larger existing homes, particularly for elderly homeowners
- Expand community ownership models like co-housing and housing trusts
- Encourage the construction, financing and preservation of owner-occupied multifamily houses and accessory units, creating housing types and finance mechanisms for working people
- Create sensible regulations on home-sharing, to protect the critical income generating function for homeowners, while protecting long term rental opportunities
- Streamline home rule petitions allowing communities to experiment with new ways to address the housing crisis
- Support real estate transaction fees for affordable housing funds
- Support the repair, renovation, energy efficiency and lead removal of our older housing stock
- Revise policies that raise barriers to small-scale infill housing and favor only large developers
- Encourage mixed-use, affordable and sustainable projects in transit served locations
Providing housing is not charity - it is the bottom rung of the ladder to security and prosperity for our families and communities. Without housing it is impossible to sustain a job, accumulate savings and contribute to the commonwealth. If one has good housing, it improves child and maternal health; improved health leads to better performance in school; success in school contributes to better jobs; and better jobs strengthen families and communities. A good home is a crucial link in a system of social and economic power that can produce prosperity for the whole commonwealth. Assuring that households, families, and individuals have safe, secure and affordable housing builds our common future.
+ LOWERING THE COST AND IMPROVING THE QUALITY OF COLLEGE
I believe it’s time to make college tuition free. College is no longer a luxury in our economy, but more often a basic need to gain access to the job market. The current financial burden of a four-year college degree is unsupportable for many, which means that America’s young people and workers are at risk of falling behind the tens of millions of global competitors who receive their educations for free.
We must move toward tuition-free education at public colleges and universities. As a first step in this direction, I support a program that will enable every student to graduate debt-free. The program will be modeled after a similar program recently enacted in New York State by Governor Andrew Cuomo. We also need to explore the possibility of financial relief for those who are already drowning in debt from college costs.
We must also listen to leaders like L. Rafael Reif, the president of MIT, who recently warned that unless we revise our college and vocational systems – and unless we create systems for life-long learning -- the students and workers of today will find themselves without the necessary skills for an economy where companies are swiftly and eagerly trying to replace workers with robots and artificial intelligence.
As Reif suggests, we need to make sure that college students are computationally literate; that workers and unions participate in designing new training and solutions that compensate for job loss; that corporations invest in public education at all levels; and that we rethink the whole concept of “school” for a century in which imagination, creativity, and cooperation matter far more than memorizing facts.
As governor, I will never forget how much I gained personally from access to an excellent education, and I will work tirelessly to make sure that such benefits are extended farther and farther until we have a fully functioning, fully accessible system of education that will drive a just and sustainable future long into the future. In Massachusetts we invented our modern system of public education in the 19th century, and now we need to prepare as we move steadily towards the 22nd.
+ FIGHTING WAGE & WEALTH INEQUALITY
I have long supported Raise Up Massachusetts, and worked to gather signatures for their ballot initiative for a $15 minimum wage and for paid family and medical leave. I also support an increase in the minimum wage for tipped employees.
I was the **only candidate for governor who testified for these measures at State House hearings.** I did so because these have long been core components of my overall program for economic and social justice. Indeed, these actions are not really bold, when compared to the practices of other industrial nations. They are the minimum actions to bring wages back into line with where they were in the 1960s and 1970s.
From here we need to continue to push for higher pay and greater equity in order to close the gaps that risk crippling our democracy. We are fighting both inequality of income and inequality of wealth, and the minimum wage increase is key to the first. I also support indexing of this wage level to prevent a repeat of the diminishing value of our minimum wage levels that we have seen over the last 50 years.
In addition, I believe that we must develop new mechanisms for wealth building in low and middle-income communities – such as re-creating opportunities like “triple decker” housing units that allowed laborers to build equity over time, or establishing land trusts, cooperatives, co-housing, and other well-established but unused mechanisms for building equity in local communities. Support for small, local, and cooperative business enterprises that will be central to my administration.
I am not new to this fight. I have made income and wealth inequality a central issue on the campaign trail from the beginning. That’s because I have been committed to achieving economic and racial equality for more than 30 years. I have written about the question extensively in articles and books, and have run both national and international organizations to advance just and sustainable economies.
A core problem is that our democracy has been corrupted by money from wealthy elites, and these elites do not know or care about the deep financial and economic challenges that face most Americans. Our old economy is content to suck money out of working and middle class families and shift it to those who already have too much. The tools of the new economy – also known as the sustainable economy, the sharing economy, the local economy -- can deliver a just, sustainable, and broad prosperity that builds our common future.
America’s strength and security are faltering because the divide between the poor and the wealthy is growing wider by the year. As our workers have become more and more productive over the decades, those gains have been captured by the 1% at the top rather than being distributed back to us in higher wages and benefits. Only by addressing these structural flaws – and by promoting higher wages, union strength, and new business models -- can we achieve the levels of equality and prosperity that Americans expect and deserve.
+ SAVING DEMOCRACY FROM BIG MONEY AND CORRUPTION
In theory, as Abraham Lincoln said, we are a “government of the people, by the people, and for the people.” In fact, our democracy has been hacked by large corporations and the rich using dark money. This has not only distorted our elections, it has distorted our thinking. Today we often judge candidates not by their values or their ideas for the future but by the single cynical indicator of how much money they have persuaded rich people to give them.
In Massachusetts, Governor Baker has established a regular practice of skirting finance laws to raise big money for himself and his causes. As a sitting governor, he has used a gaping loophole to funnel millions of dollars to national Republican organizations – at $43,000 a pop – so that they can turn around and give the money back to him. This is the same governor who secretly turned to his allies, employees, and supporters to raise money for ballot initiatives like Question 2. After the fact, his efforts were slapped down with half-million dollar fines imposed by the Office of Campaign and Political Finance. As governor, I will change state law to prevent these loopholes and secret practices affecting statewide campaigns.
I also support public financing of campaigns. The legislation is on the books, but it was gutted by a refusal by the legislature to fund it. Indeed, I have been fighting big money in politics for a long time, including supporting the original Clean Elections ballot initiative almost 20 years ago. I have fought successfully with many allies to persuade pension funds and other institutions to demand that corporations be required to reveal their political contributions.
I also support fundamental campaign finance reform at the federal level in any way possible, including the overturning of the odious and nonsensical Citizens United decision. This is fundamental to my long-held belief in the need for citizen-driven democratic outcomes, undistorted by big money. My campaign is financed principally by individual small donors. I will not accept donations from corporations. In addition to individual contributions, I will only accept financial support from registered organizations that are known to be acting in the public interest.
To further revive democracy, we need to make it easier to vote and easier to run for office. This includes automatic registration and, especially important, ranked choice voting. By selecting the person and policies voters really want – and listing them in order – people can vote their conscience rather than calculating who is most likely to win. This is similar to how voting works at conventions that have multiple ballots: people start by voting for who they wang and, when the candidates with the lowest votes are dropped, they redirect their votes to their next highest preference. With modern computer technology this would be easy to implement and make our democracy more representative, more open, and more democratic.
We are perilously close to the transformation of our democracy into a plutocracy, in which elections and policies are determined by the wealthy. Our founders worried about the impact of the “monied interests” on the early republic. Today, nearly 250 years after our nation’s birth, we must continue to fight such interests – or risk sitting on the sidelines while the United States is steadily destroyed. The time for bold, progressive, democratic action is NOW.
+ FIGHTING FOR FOOD JUSTICE
Food ties everything together - our economy, our water, our land, our health, our nutrition, our prosperity, and our independence. That’s why as governor I will promote farming, fisheries, and food justice.
A healthy population depends on real food. School children cannot learn when they are hungry. Industrial junk food has addicted two generations to cheap and empty calories, creating an epidemic of obesity. Access to fresh food is all but impossible in many neighborhoods, and unaffordable in others. This must be changed.
Those fighting hope to raise a new generation of stewards of our environment but many kids have no idea of how the land nourishes them. Urban and rural farmers strive to get healthy fresh food to communities but struggle with the economic and physical challenges of making farms work. Our fisheries are imperiled and the working man and women who depend on them are worried about the future. All these factors are interconnected.
We know that our farmers and fishermen face great challenges in doing their vital work and we must insure that our policies enable them to maintain a stable food source for our communities and stable incomes for their families.
We can build on the tremendous assets we already have in Massachusetts. We have great soil, sustainable growing practices, and a strong farm sector, including more than 40,000 farms. Food production employs almost 500,000 people. We have the highest percentage in the United States of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) supported farms. We have been fishing our waters for hundreds of years and, despite tremendous economic and ecological pressures, we have fought to maintain world class fisheries.
Despite these strengths, food insecurity, food deserts, obesity, and undernourishment plague many of our communities. We need to improve the growth potential of our agricultural businesses, increase the value-added range of products that they sell, secure benefits for their workers (including itinerant farmer workers), increase our consumption of fresh foods, and reduce food waste.
In particular, I endorse the goals of the Massachusetts Local Food Action Plan to
- increase production and consumption of local food
- Expand and improve jobs in the food sector
- Protect the land and water
- Reduce malnutrition and food insecurity
Farming enterprises are subject to the unpredictability of nature and weather, and this unpredictability is steadily being made worse by climate change. Their businesses, in order to work, need to function as a web of interconnected systems, like their farms do. They need organizations and communications using high speed internet, still not available in many rural communities.
Farmers and fisherman need predictable markets, and these can be made possible with long-term institutional contracts. At the same time, our schools need fresh healthy food to feed kids, preferably breakfast, lunch and late afternoon snacks. With a guaranteed supply of food, schools could shift away from prepackaged empty calorie industrial foods. By brokering agreement with local farm co-operatives, and facilitating purchase and delivery, the state can help both farmers and school-kids.
Processing and Storage Facilities
Farmers, urban and rural, need ways to manage fluctuating supply and get their goods to consumers all year. Local food storage and processing facilities can store fruits and vegetables longer term, make sauces and other value added products. If we want to eat healthier grass fed meat, we need to help farmers with meat processing facilities. Massachusetts, the geographical center for New England farming has only one facility, for meat and only two mobile labs for poultry, the need is greater. Facilities should be located in reasonable proximity to the farms that need them, and they could function also as wholesale market locations simplifying delivery to schools, hospitals and restaurants.
Schools and Research
School garden programs in Cambridge and Boston offer excellent models for expanding learning through growing food. Every school should have the opportunity to for kids to learn science, math, sociology, healthy eating, sustainability and more through garden activities.
We also need to support agricultural research at our state universities and involve our producers in that work. New sustainable models for aquaculture, carbon sequestration, soil building, and sustainable meat production require research, demonstration and technical assistance.
Food justice must also apply to the men and women who rely on food businesses for a living, particularly our fishing communities. As the fishing stocks dwindle, we must stop overexploitation. At the same time, we cannot regulate an important part of the economy into extinction and destroy a revered way of life for generations. We need to explore new ways of pulling nutrition from the sea, creating higher value products (like fish leather), and making a living on the water. Experiments in more sustainable fisheries, aquaculture and shellfish farms are promising and need to be fully supported by research and economic development grants. Our growing international partnerships with countries that have perfected value-added fishery businesses are key to keeping the economy of our coastal communities viable.
Food waste is one of the greatest contributors to global climate change. We need a comprehensive approach to combating waste, beginning with helping farmers pick and process excess crops, like boom years of apples. We must change our consumption habits, beginning in our schools with ancient methods like an “Ort Report.” “Ort” is an Old English word that meant “uneaten food” and an “Ort Report” is a method of gathering all the food left on the plates of students, campers, and other institutions and weighing it each day to show how much is needlessly being thrown away. The Nature’s Classroom program for public school children in Somerville used this method to encourage children to be mindful of what they put on their plates, and this simple method drove food waste down to nearly zero in a few short days. We should consider creating friendly competitions between schools, offices, and others institutions to see which communities can create the least waste in a week.
Major institutions like hospitals and colleges, should also be charged with finding creative ways to reduce waste from food preparation and consumption. A major public information campaign, like the stop smoking campaigns, is needed. Increasing food composting facilities, adding new second-hand food markets, like the Daily Table, can also reduce waste.
Various initiatives encourage home composting and some communities are starting to manage food waste compost. My family has been composting at our home in Somerville for more than 22 years, and we calculate that we have diverted more than 16 tons of food waste from landfill by turning it into soil and spreading it on our one-quarter acre lot.
We need to increase such practices dramatically. A conference on the obstacles and opportunities for restaurant, food retail, and institutional food composting could educate state officials, create networks and spur development. Technical and grant support for composting businesses should follow. Communities that take on food waste and composting could get support through the Community Preservation Act.
Support for Farm and Fishery Workers
Earning a living from farming or fishing is hard work. It offers little in the way of benefits, security, or savings. We need protect and create benefits for workers including health insurance for all, debt free education, access to capital, family leave insurance and portable benefits.
It’s a truism that farmers need land. In Massachusetts we also realize that the land needs farmers. The value of the landscape, the quality of life we enjoy and encourage others to come enjoy, depends in part on keeping a viable rural economy, and making land available and affordable for farmers. Agricultural land plays a critical role in improving the environment, habitats and reducing climate change, we all have a stake in expanding and improving farmland.
Bringing Food Justice to the City
At the same time our city neighborhoods -- especially low income communities and communities of color -- need to expand urban farming. Rooftops, back lots, vertical walls, greenhouses, all can provide critical growing space in our cities and towns. Urban gardens and farms increase autonomy for local growers, provide the freshest food, save food dollars, and educate people to the benefits of growing food. Programs are needed to assist small grocery stores, on which many neighborhoods depend, with sourcing and managing fresh local produce inventory. Projects like the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative have demonstrated how inner city farms increase neighborhood cohesion, engage kids, improve health, expand economic opportunity and increase political power. Nuestras Raices in Holyoke, will train 100 new farmers. Innovative projects like the Commonwealth Kitchen, a successful incubator for food businesses and the Daily Table, providing prepared meals from waste food, are models for how food can serve to expand entrepreneurial businesses and provide healthy food to our communities. Food is the most fundamental source of our individual and communal well being. It is the center of our cultural expression and community identity. It is how we come together and how we care for each other. As a Commonwealth we must protect and expand our food resources and businesses, support and improve our hardworking agricultural and fishing communities, and insure equitable access to healthy local food for everyone.