Globe: Deval Patrick’s Reform Record Under Scrutiny…

Touches on auto insurance, ethics reforms, municipal insurance, charter schools, etc. I think it’s WAY too easy on Patrick but what could one expect from Noah Bierman… That said, it includes a hard-hitting conclusion: “‘Reform has not been the administration’s first instinct,’ said Michael J. Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, a business-backed watchdog often consulted by lawmakers and the administration.” Widmer is a former Dukakis advisor, so not inclined to be critical of Patrick, yet here it is.

My biggest issue with Patrick has been education policy, and he takes some heat for his positions on charter schools:

When he ran in 2006, he spoke ambivalently about charters, saying they were short-changing traditional public schools, the position taken by teachers unions, a key ally.

…After President Obama’s election, support for charter schools became an important requirement for states looking for a piece of the $4.35 billion in grant funding from a federal program called Race to the Top.

…He said he remains concerned that the state’s school funding formula does not treat charter schools and traditional schools equitably, an issue he still plans to tackle. “We couldn’t wait for that,” he said. “We just needed to move.”

In other words, the union-backed Patrick objected to charters when elected in 2006 until President Obama forced him to get on board for Race to the Top eligibility, and now that he secured that, Patrick is planning to fiddle with charter school funding once re-elected (wink wink to the MTA that he’s still in your pocket!).  

And on municipal insurance, Patrick has again caved to the unions–

For years, municipal leaders have scrambled as the cost of generous health care plans for municipal employees, retirees, and elected officials has skyrocketed. In 2007, Patrick agreed to let cities and towns join the state’s larger, more flexible health plan, which has been more successful in keeping costs down. But there was a catch: Communities could only join the state system if 70 percent of a local union committee approved.

Largely because of that union threshold, only 20 cities and towns have joined. Those that have are saving millions. An August report by the Boston Foundation said 15 cities and towns in the program collectively saw $35.5 million in health care savings in the first year.

Patrick asserts that unions deserve a voice, offering to lower the approval threshold to 50 percent.  Baker says the governor, out of deference to organized labor, has been unwilling to push the Legislature hard enough.

As Scot Lehigh pointed out, Cahill = Patrick on this issue:…

Treasurer Tim Cahill is just as bad, if not worse, on this matter. When Republican Charlie Baker noted that cities and towns needed clear plan design authority, Cahill took him to task, insisting that all health plan changes should be negotiated. That, of course, is the union position. Conclusion: Baker is the only candidate willing to confront this vital issue head on.  

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