( – promoted by Rob “EaBo Clipper” Eno)
Like many others, we watched with great interest as the Massachusetts Republican Party debated and voted on its platform last week. (The full text can be found here.) However, we were focusing on those parts of the document that deal with our big issues: fiscal responsibility, a healthier business climate, and better government. With just over eight months left until the 2014 statewide elections, we decided to highlight what we view as the eight best ideas related to those topics. They’re presented below in the order in which they appear in the platform. We hope all candidates in the 2014 elections will seriously consider supporting them. Full list after the jump…
1. “We support a moratorium on new, non-emergency state regulations, fee increases, and business taxes.” So do we! This would add create greater certainty for business owners as they plan for the future, and thus increase their confidence that gains from new employees won’t be swamped by new demands from Beacon Hill.
2. “We support replacing the current, lopsided partisan balance on the Ethics Committee with an even balance, with 4 members appointed by the Speaker and 4 members appointed by the Minority Leader instead of the current 7-4 split.” We do, too! An even balance of majority and minority party members on the Ethics Committee will increase public trust that their government is honest, and that ethics concerns won’t be dealt with on a partisan basis. Much of the state House seems to think otherwise, though: this proposal was defeated 29-126.
3. “We support requirements that all legislation be posted online for a full day before it is to be voted on.” Of course! To us, it just seems fundamental to good government: lawmakers should have at least have one full day and night to study final proposals before the vote. This would allow the press and the general public to comprehend the proposals, too, and make known any concerns or potential pitfalls. It’s unfortunate that so few lawmakers agree: even a narrower version of this idea failed 29-125 last year.
4. “We support a requirement that the results of all committee polls be posted online.” Definitely! People can’t hold their legislators accountable if they can’t get information about what their lawmakers are actually doing. This is also fundamental to good government. Here, too, it’s sad that only a few dozen state representatives voted in favor of this rule: a proposal to enact this requirement failed 29-126 last year.
5. “We support a requirement that bills removing money from the state’s rainy day account be approved by two-thirds of the members of each body.” Agreed! There should be wide-ranging agreement that dipping into the “rainy day fund” is necessary, and we think a two-thirds majority is a better standard than just 51%. Much of Massachusetts’ economic health depends on keeping the rainy day fund strong. It shouldn’t just be an extra option for politicians who want to spend more money without doing the hard work of reforming programs that don’t work and reducing the waste, fraud, and abuse that’s rampant in state government.
6. “We believe parents can make the best decisions for their children. We support parents’ right to choose where to educate their children: in a public, private, or charter school, or through home schooling. We believe that the cap on charter schools should be lifted.” We support this, too! Our education system exists to prepare the next generation of students to thrive in our rapidly-changing world. The one-size-fits-all approach that so many advocate is exactly the wrong solution on multiple levels; it’s irresponsible educationally and fiscally as well.
7. “We oppose the indexing of any tax to the rate of inflation.” Hear, hear! If legislators want more of taxpayers’ hard-earned money, they should stand up and say so, rather than hiding behind tricks like this.
8. “A two-thirds vote of the Legislature should be required in order to raise taxes.” Yes indeed! As with taking money out of the rainy day fund, there ought to be broader consensus than a simple majority before taxpayers are forced to fork over even more of their hard-earned money to Beacon Hill, especially with the ongoing struggles in Massachusetts economy. Again, we regret that few seem to agree: this idea was defeated 29-124 in 2013.
Whether you liked the list or didn’t, or you think we missed anything we should have included, your feedback is always welcome in the comments or at firstname.lastname@example.org!