Endorsements on Parade: Time for New Executive Decisions in Mass…
Many states lay claim to inventing America. Few get as close to that being true as the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Not every pivotal event in American history happened in our state, but it is not an overstatement to suggest that revolutions—political, cultural, technological—common start here.
Unfortunately, a type of gridlock has hampered the commonwealth despite the seeming rosiness. The economy overall is doing well, but the benefits are unequally distributed by both class and geography. That may be our single most important issue. It touches everything—transportation, healthcare, education, the environment—and yet we are doing little to address that. It needs to change and it starts by installing Jay Gonzalez to replace Charlie Baker.
This blog’s disappointment with Baker is more systemic than mere ideology and policy. Certainly, we believe that Gonzalez will pursue policies more amenable to us. But it is clear to us that Gonzalez can be a governor who meets the expectations we set for our commonwealth.
Readers of this blog will know our gripes about Baker are nothing new. We have compared him, unfavorably, to more other state governors who, though far more conservative, got more done. We have found him less willing to step out on, well, anything, save charter schools, than his predecessors of both parties.
In the current era, Bay Stater, who thoroughly rejected Donald Trump in 2016, are looking for assurance. Baker provides little. His support can be tepid even when it’s there. He practically hid under the bed to sign the transgender public accommodations bill (Baker has since become slightly more forthright defending it).
The result is a timid, lame, and counterproductive administration that shields the inert and corrupt in Massachusetts politics. If Bill Weld was Big Red, then Charlie Baker is Tall Vanilla.
Baker’s Republican ancestors in this office may have been more conservative than we would like, but they understood that the creative conflict with the legislature was how to achieve things. A never ending, but false kumbaya moment cannot deliver and it has not done so.
It’s a frustrating place to be because we actually respect Baker more—substantially more—than the last two Massachusetts Republicans elected statewide: Mitt Romney and Scott Brown. On good information, we understand Baker to be technocrat, a data guy, a geek—in the very best sense of the word. Yet, he follows tortured political advice that appoints disgraced Democratic pols and tolerates hacks of his own party. Arbitrary ground rules on new revenue and capital investments have stifled innovation even as they hobble Massachusetts’s creditworthiness.
He does not govern as the leader of a great enterprise like Massachusetts, but like the general manager of the last remaining Sears in a metro area: inexorably in decline and trying to keep the ship afloat.
Enough of him.
Our recommendation is Jay Gonzalez. As a blog in city always suffering constantly serious—if not critical—fiscal pressures, we appreciate Gonzalez’s history as Deval Patrick’s Secretary of Administration & Finance. A recent Globe article detailed his largely effective steering the state finances through the aftershocks of the recession. Within the confines the legislature provided, he made difficult choices and kept the commonwealth afloat.
Gonzalez has been cognizant of Massachusetts’s geographic divide, a legacy of Patrick’s demand that his cabinet spend plenty of time out here. The key, however, is not just sending folks out here. It is connecting the commonwealth better such that this gap be consigned to history.
We speak, obviously, of embracing East-West rail. Only after it became clear opposition was a political loser did Baker relent and approve a study through the Department of Transportation. Gonzalez boarded the train long before. It’s a piece of a broader commitment to sew Massachusetts’s disparate parts closer together.
Gonzalez backs single-payer healthcare. Admittedly, this blog is undecided on such a proposal’s virtues. Yet, we embrace the commitment to continue expanding access to care and cutting its costs. That certainly beats gutting MassHealth.
The commitments to the environment to education funding to childcare are all critical.
We acknowledge fair questions about how Gonzalez will pay for his agenda. It’ll be another four years before the Millionaires tax could rise again, cutting off one avenue. We are agnostic about Gonzalez’s endowment tax, but put forward an innovative suggestion. There are option and others may be forthcoming. We won’t can our ambitions just because some details remain in beta.
But more than any one issue, Gonzalez gets that the commonwealth is only running in first gear these days. Though an Ohio native, he gets that we can live up to our revolutionary history if only we try. There is aspiration in his rhetoric.
Every speech and appearance need not match the enthusiasm of an Obama inaugural speech. Yet it shouldn’t have the feel of a ho-hum shareholders meeting at an airport hotel conference room. The last four years have felt like the latter with concurring tangible results.
We can do better and to do so, we urge Massachusetts elect Jay Gonzalez to the office of Governor on November 6.