1. Now that you announced you are running for Governor, why do you refuse to answer questions about the Big Dig, one of the biggest financial challenges facing the state–and your past role in creating it?
2. When you were in charge of state finances, why did you claim, “I don’t see how anybody could argue that the artery will be pulling money away from non-artery projects”–even as the state had shut down scores of other highway projects due to the cash crunch?
In February 1998, then-Secretary for Administration & Finance Charles Baker asserted: “I don’t see how anybody could argue that the artery will be pulling money away from non-artery projects.” At the time, the state highway department had shut down or shelved a reported 200 projects around the state, with officials privately admitting they faced a cash flow crisis in state transportation accounts. Boston Globe, 1/27/1998 and Boston Herald, 3/23/1998
3. Why does your campaign today claim you had “a limited role in the financing process” when in fact you literally wrote a key Big Dig financing report?
In October 1997, the Boston Globe and Boston Herald reported on a newly-released Big Dig “financing report” that called for the “Big Dig to double [the] amount it borrows.” The Globe described the plan as “a new Administration and Finance report” while the Herald spoke of “Baker, who prepared the report.”
4. When you were in charge of state finances, why did you dismiss warnings that Big Dig spending was spiraling out of control–and instead insist you had the “right mechanism” in place to pay for it?
In 1997, the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation issued a study finding the Commonwealth would face a serious Big Dig funding shortfall, even if no additional cost hikes occurred. A & F Secretary Baker brushed off the (accurate) warning, insisting: “We have the right mechanism for dealing with a situation that everyone admits is going to be challenging.”
5. When you were in charge of state finances, why did you remain silent in the face of false claims “no one’s contemplating toll hikes”–or did you really believe this?
In November 1994, A & F Secretary Baker remained silent as then-Lt. governor Paul Cellucci publicly claimed “no one’s contemplating raising tolls” to finance the Big Dig. Media reporting of that time describes lawmakers as incredulous at Cellucci’s claim, and sure enough, the Weld Administration later issued a report acknowledging tolls would need to double or triple.
John Walsh, Chair
Massachusetts Democratic Party