It's Still 'The Economy, Stupid,' but You'd Never Know It by Coverage of Gov Race

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Both major party candidates for governor have plans to improve the state’s economy but we’re not hearing much about them.  The news media remain focused, per usual, on the horse-race aspects of the election:  who’s ahead in the latest poll, who’s trending up or down, whose “unfavorable” are higher, etc.  The media’s also fixated on Charlie Baker’s supposed gender gap and Martha Coakley’s supposed need to redeem herself for losing the Senate election to Scott Brown.

Meanwhile, the most important issues facing citizens over the next four years, all of which have to do with money, seem mired in the background.  I’m talking about stagnating personal incomes, the crazy costs confronting first-time homebuyers, the lack of good paying jobs for our children and grandchildren, and the soaring price of electricity at a time when the U.S. is awash in the natural gas needed to generate it.
On their campaign web sites, you can easily find what Baker and Coakley say they’ll do to strengthen and stimulate the economy.  You can acquaint yourself with the details of both plans in less time than it takes to watch a TV sitcom.  See links below to Baker and Coakley web sites.

Maybe you’re real busy and don’t have the time.  Maybe you’re not willing to spend half an hour on such an exercise.  Worry not.   The other day I decided to print out the Baker and Coakley economic plans, and to circle what I consider the five top highlights in each, and to reproduce them verbatim below.
Charlie Baker

“Promote Entrepreneurship: Reduce Fees for Starting and Maintaining a Business.  Forming an LLC (limited liability corporation) costs $500 and each such business must also pay an annual filing fee of $500 to the state.  The state should eliminate the initial filing fee and reduce the annual fee to $125.”

“As Governor, Charlie will designate a member of his staff to be the point person for entrepreneurship and economic growth.  This person will be empowered to engage and coordinate state agencies to maximize their responsiveness and collective impact on business formation and growth.  In addition to playing this intergovernmental role, he or she would be responsible for pro-actively identifying barriers to new business formation and making recommendations to the Governor’s cabinet and the legislature for reducing or removing those constraints on entrepreneurship.”

“If state revenue increases, total local aid will increase: Level-funding local aid is not sufficient if state tax revenue increases.  In the first year of a Baker administration, total local aid (including education funding and unrestricted aid) will increase by at least 75% of the revenue growth rate; in each subsequent year, local aid will increase by 100% of the revenue growth rate.’
“There are close to 25 separate federal and state programs that support revitalization of distressed cities and neighborhoods.  In addition, there are numerous other infrastructure, public safety, education, and workforce development programs that could have a direct impact on enabling or stimulating economic growth.  As Governor, Charlie will consolidate economic development programs in order to create Opportunity Zones in high-need communities and regions.  These zones will be established through a competitive process, whereby public-private partnerships representing individual cities or regions submit focused and actionable strategic plans to stimulate sustainable economic growth and job creation.  Successful proposals will not only address key infrastructure, tax and regulatory barriers to business growth, they will also include ambitious and creative approaches to: encouraging entrepreneurship; deepening connections between employers, career technical high schools and community colleges; expanding high-quality PK-12 school options; and improving public safety.”

“Housing that’s affordable for working people is an important component of thriving communities, but there is no single solution to the insufficient supply of affordable and market-rate housing.  The state needs to be flexible and provide a range of tools, assistance and encouragement to cities and towns to build more housing that working families can afford.  Continuing to support tax credits for affordable and market-rate development, working with communities on zoning reform and maximizing federal housing dollars are all important strategies.  The state can lead by example by pursuing the use of currently unused state-owned land near transit as an opportunity to develop market-rate housing.”
Martha Coakley

“The core foundation of the Coakley-Kerrigan growth strategy is to invest in our people.  The Commonwealth’s educated workforce is our global calling card and most important strategic asset.  Everyone deserves an outstanding, affordable educational experience from pre-K through college or vocational training.  We know the best way to build an economy that is fair and prosperous, that creates opportunity for all and levels inequalities, is to invest in providing a world-class education and workforce training aligned with our new economy.”
“We need to build an economy that works for everyone – in every region of Massachusetts.  This means identifying the unique strengths and needs of each region, and working with local leaders to determine how the state can be an effective partner to address any challenges…The Coakley-Kerrigan growth strategy includes a community-and-region-based partnership model, providing collaborative investment and support to cities and towns, allowing regions to harness and maximize their unique and diverse industry strengths and economic opportunities.”

“We must ensure Massachusetts is a welcoming place for new and established businesses to grow and stay.  This requires a predictable and collaborative business environment, where regulatory red tape can be tackled, government partners and dialogues with employers of all sizes, and we all work together to confront the spiraling costs of health care and energy.”
“Technology innovation is driving our economy in new ways every day.  Nearly 40% of our economy is now defined as within the innovation economy.  Our Commonwealth’s legacy industry strengths in areas like health care, manufacturing, and financial services are adapting and transforming into globally-leading, innovative industries…To create a great environment that encourages new technology-based industries to thrive, government must be an active partner with industry and academia.  We can continue to lead the world in life sciences and clean technology and support our emerging industries like big data, eHealth, digital marketing, and robotics by supporting talent retention and workforce development and investing in research and development.”

“To ensure economic growth in all regions, communities, and sectors, we must be constantly striving for a more level and inclusive playing field for the Commonwealth’s workers and businesses.  Economic fairness is the backbone of sustainable, healthy economic growth, allowing all people and companies the chance to attain their maximum potential…We need to ensure that the Commonwealth is a home for good jobs which provide workers with the opportunity to earn a decent wage, support their families, and save for their future.”


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