7 pm – here we go! Jon Keller’s introducing the candidates now – after a “buenas noches” shout-out to the Univision viewers (that got a good laugh in the press room). Format: one minute answers, then “open” period.
First question: “what makes you electable?” – goes to Gabs. Not about Dem or Republican – about “getting results.” Running through the list of position papers.
Patrick: “we’ve put out ideas over the last year.” But the edge: government, business, nonprofits, community groups. “I’ve gotten results in all of those contexts.” Also: inviting people to check back in – brings a different “people power,” “grassroots power” to Beacon Hill. [Good answer! -ed.]
Reilly: people are looking for independence. “I’ve been an independent Democrat throughout my career.” Taxes: I’m the only Dem willing to obey the people’s mandate. Proven record of getting things done. On their side.
Rebuttal: Patrick wants to talk taxes. Acknowledges the vote – and why wouldn’t they vote to roll it back, in light of waste like the Big Dig. “But the tax to cut is the property tax – that’s the one that’s squeezing people.”
Reilly: annoyed about “lack of curiosity” comment re Big Dig. Problem with that is series of GOP Govs who tied my hands. No one has a right to ignore the will of the voters – you can’t substitute your will for theirs.
Now Gabs: I have a “can do” plan. Says we can cut the income tax and the property tax! [And everyone gets a pony! -ed.]
Reilly (to Gabs): questions Gabs’ 40% plan. Says you have to be straight with the voters. Your plan doesn’t roll back the income tax, except when you want it to.
Patrick: concept of a gradual rollback is right. Difference is “you love the world of theory, and I live in the real world.” Notes that health care costs are going up much faster than inflation.
Gabs: “A plan is not a concept.” Restates his plan. “A very simple formula to understand.”
Patrick: formula you’ve laid out works on paper, but isn’t going to result in an income tax cut. Now to Reilly: reason property taxes are going up 33% is because communities are starved of state aid.
Reilly: back to the “people have voted.” “A billion dollars sitting there in surplus.” [Not true – the legislature spent it! -ed.]
Gabs: “I don’t agree with tomorrow, I don’t agree with never.” Likes his plan.
Patrick: brings up Cahill – “State Treasurer says my plan is the most fiscally responsible.”
Reilly: we work for the people.
7.10 – Keller: Fidelity is moving execs to RI because of tax break given to top corporate executives. Support it?
Patrick: No, don’t support that particular break. But must be much more robust partners with businesses. Now we have no good partnerships despite a business-oriented Gov who sold himself that way. Talks up Evergreen Solar – says they’re building a new facility in Germany because no one asked them.
Reilly: wouldn’t support the incentive. Need an entirely different relationship between state gov’t and business community. Too many state agencies: streamline economic development process. End over-regulation, permitting delays.
Gabs: wouldn’t give that tax break either. [unanimous on that one. -ed.] Jobs come from small businesses – innovation is good. “Small Business Commission” will start looking at issues on day 1.
Rebuttal time now. Patrick and Gabs generally agree on this.
Reilly: “I don’t just see Cambridge.” Talking up plan to invest $500M in UMass research.
Gabs: “I agree with you.” [everyone’s pretty much on the same page on this one. -ed.]
Keller: education. Question from website: parent concerned about their bright kid being lumped in with those who learn less quickly. “Will you order public schools to restore tracking?”
Reilly: No. I was tracked when I was in high school. Tough time in life; barely graduated; had some problems. Believe in giving opportunities; don’t believe in tracking. I know how hard it was to fight through it.
Gabs: “We do need to do more for kids who are gifted.” We should have “high schools of excellence – amazing that we don’t have a Bronx H.S. of Science.” Wants to push innovation. Says he likes charter schools – “Deval, you’re wrong to be against them.”
Patrick: I reject tracking. Need to create attention and time for gifted and talented kids. Chris, you’re wrong that I don’t support charter schools. My view is that, as important and as helpful as they are, we need to come up with a better funding mechanism before we raise the cap.
Gabs: Dems and GOP came together. Wants more charter schools right now.
Reilly: there was a moratorium proposed to curb growth in charter schools. Sign it?
Patrick: No. We need more charter schools. Problem is that the funding mechanism is bad.
Gabs: “The dollars follow the kids. Everywhere I’ve been in business, that’s how it works.”
Patrick: “And once again, the formula works in theory, and not in real life, there are real tensions between real families. And that is not community building.”
7.23: Keller: do state employees pay enough at 15% of health insurance?
Gabs: 15% is about right. But will focus on municipal employees. [Can’t tell what he’s proposing, exactly … -ed.] Says he won’t take it out of collective bargaining. Will work collaboratively into classrooms.
Patrick: That’s a big part of the right answer. We need to manage down healthcare costs for everybody. Need uniform protocols for reimbursements; need uniformity in records; smarter bulk purchasing strategies. Need to get costs down for everybody.
Reilly: For the past 8 years I’ve been working with health care delivery system. Now onto Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. “I’m the only one with that kind of experience.” Next Gov had better know something about health care. “I know where to start: cutting those administrative costs.” Forms going back and forth … government can drive the change.
Rebuttal: Gabs – “I think we’ve asked too little of employers.” Says $295 isn’t enough. Seeing that numbers don’t add up.
Reilly: “That’s the different between theory and being on the ground.” [Patrick: “he just made my point.”] You haven’t even gotten the job yet, and you’re trying to blow the bill up. Getting things done is entirely different from theory.
Gabs: “This bill is theoretical – it hasn’t been implemented.” About values: is $295 enough?
Now candidates ask questions of each other.
Patrick: in April, we all agreed to support the nominee, and run a positive campaign. Now, in the last few days, there’s been a lot of nasty and negative stuff. What does that say about character and leadership?
Reilly: We’re talking about your refusal to release your tax returns, and to refuse to obey the will of the voters. That’s fair comparison. “You think you can do whatever you want. You can’t – we work for the people.”
Gabs: “I disagree with you on some issues.” Taxes; immigration. “I don’t think it’s a high priority to fund college education for illegal immigrants.” Charter schools.
Patrick: I think we are right to point up the differences in our policies and plans. “But the behavior of both of you in last week’s debate was over that line, and what [Gabs] has been saying over the last few days is over the line.” Says he and Gabs disagree, but only on the margins.
n for the others: asks whether they support limiting criminal history information?
Gabs: you know more about CORI checks than I do. But my understanding is that some information is not well organized. But it’s important that after-school providers be able to do a CORI check.
Patrick: very important that law enforcement have broad, unlimited access to CORI. Need to deal with inaccuracies. Don’t think it’s necessary for all employers have access to everything. Need access to what’s relevant.
Reilly: talking about a specific bill that apparently allows purging of juvenile records.
Patrick: “There is no way that bill is getting past my desk without law enforcement having appropriate access.”
Reilly: says this bill is “crazy stuff.”
Patrick: “Tom, did you just hear what I said?” I’m not going to accept purging of records.
Gabs: admits that he just peeked over Patrick’s shoulder to read his notes. Nice.
Anyway, here’s his question: where specifically do you disagree with our party?
Patrick: most of the party is against Cape Wind, and I’m for it. Concerned about nurse staffing ratios – hard to imagine legislating it. I’m trying to put out specific ideas, and to bring leadership to those ideas.
Reilly: taxes: I totally disagree with them. I support MCAS graduation requirements. “I got booed at my own convention because I thought Billy Bulger should be fired from UMass.” Proud to be a Democrat, but some of the points I disagree.
Gabs: my three on platform were: support charter schools; disagree with platform. Support MCAS. Oppose single-payer health requirement.
Patrick: support MCAS graduation requirement. Some issues that we can use to make it work better.
7.40. Keller: Patronage. Will any preference be given to job applicants who work for your campaign, who gave to your campaign, or who are recommended by politicos?
Reilly: have a track record of superbly run agencies. Big disappointment of GOP Govs: there’s no talent, no expertise. No one in those agencies had the ability to stand up to Bechtel. Hope to spark a renaissance with new ideas, talent, energy. Know how to create and attract talent.
Gabs: No preference for political allies. In favor of individuals. Would give a chance to people currently in the administration. Also think it’s important to look at Romney-Healey track record. Romney put 3 people on Turnpike Authority – none are engineers. They’re political loyalists.
Patrick: That’s right. Haven’t made any promises, there’s no quid pro quo. I want the best people from any party. I want some people in the administration and in the cabinet who disagree with me.
7.43: Keller: will you commit to specific quotas for women and minorities in executive branch?
Gabs: not a supporter of quotas. Subtlest form of bias is that people don’t have access to networks, so have to make extra efforts. Qualifications come first. But worry about people with disabilities having access. Diversity’s a complicated formula.
Patrick: We will have a diverse cabinet and administration, but not by quotas, because we don’t have to, and we shouldn’t. We’ll look for the best people, and focus on qualifications.
Reilly: I run a diverse operation, but it’s based on merit, talent, results.
Rebuttal: Gabs: I do want to come back to one thing. Back to taxes. As the economy grows, revenue grows – no ambiguity on tax. What are the specifics?
Patrick: couple of points. First: you focus on the wrong revenues. Point I was making earlier is that revenue growth we’ve had is from capital gains. But regular folks’ wages haven’t been going up. So until we get that kind of economic growth, we can’t do it. We need to invest in roads, bridges, schools.
Reilly: neither one of you get it. The debate is over – the people have voted. People in this state are struggling. $200 is important to them. It’s not up to you, Chris, to have a formula, and it’s not up to you, Deval, to ignore it. There’s a billion dollars sitting there, and there’s another billion coming next year. [woohoo! free money! -ed.]
Patrick: leadership is being candid, even when it’s a popular choice.
Reilly: “there’s a billion dollars sitting there.”
Gabs: What I find hard to see is how you can say you’re a leader when you won’t lay out a plan. [Right, just ask President Kerry! -ed.]
Patrick: In fact, we have a plan, called chapter 186. Personal exemptions are going up for the third time in a row – and it’s targeted at low and moderate income range. Income taxes are already being reduced.
Reilly: coming back to education. Likes merit pay. Why shouldn’t we pay our best teachers more?
Patrick: when I first heard about merit pay, I recognized it from private life, it sounded exactly right. Then I talked with teachers and parents, they talked about collaboration. Anything we do to defeat collaboration should worry us. So I changed my thinking: we should reward the team, not the individual.
Gabs: a big part of my proposal is to have a larger fund at state level to support innovation. I don’t think the top-down mandates work. Wants to allow district to do their own merit pay proposals…? [Not quite sure what he meant. -ed.]
Keller: one yes or no question. Will you promise that absent family crisis, you’ll serve out entire term and not even consider higher office?
7.53. Closing statements.
Reilly first: we live in dangerous times. 9/11, etc. This is a time for tested leadership. For the last 20 years, I’ve gotten up every morning, and went to work for you. I’ve gotten the job done every step of the way. As Governor, I will show up every step of the way.
Gabs: we have an important choice. I don’t think it should be who served longest in gov’t, or who’s been running longest, but on who should do the job best. I focus on results. Stem cell, education plans. I’ve laid out detailed, specific plans. (goes through the list of plans) As long as it’s a good idea that gets results.
Patrick: MA is a great state, but yesterday’s greatness does not assure tomorrow’s. Not just choices among good ideas – these gentlemen have some good ideas. The choice we have to make is how to change the culture of inaction on Beacon Hill, and that’s what I’m about. My job as Texaco etc. was to develop a plan, and motivate people to get it done. I’ve managed thousands of people, hundreds of millions of dollars. I understand how important it is to motivate people to seek higher ground.
And that’s it! Press gaggle coming up…