WHAT WE BELIEVE
We believe everyone is equal, everyone’s civil rights must be protected, and that the government must spend our money wisely.
In Massachusetts, like throughout America, politics has become predictable, frustrating, and uninspiring. Most of us now can predict what a Democratic or Republican politician’s position on a subject will be simply based on whether they have a “D” or an “R” next to their name. At a time when we face serious problems and challenges, we need better. We need to change more than piecemeal bits of outdated policies. We must change the entire mindset.
Like our founders before us, we need a movement, and candidates for office, who will spend the time to really think and learn about issues, and engage the public in explaining what they want to do, and why – instead of poll-tested sound bites. We need leaders who will treat voters like adults. Leaders who are willing to face the reality that much of what we’ve been trying to do to solve growing problems in our state isn’t working. And we need to be crafting fiscally sensible solutions combined with pragmatically progressive ideas – a common-sense combination that represents where the majority of Massachusetts voters actually are.
It’s time to put aside the tired, cynical ”Left-versus-Right” debates and start anew. It’s time to bring to our political process people who have the humility to understand that real progress takes time, a clear sense of direction, and the involvement of everyone with a stake in making our state a better place.
It will take not only legislative leaders, but community activists, cutting-edge scholars, and regular people who want to see Massachusetts set off in a brave new direction.
We need to stop what doesn’t work and start doing what does. This sounds simple, but for decades now leaders have not been held accountable enough to ensure this pragmatic thinking and direction.
When it comes to actual solutions, we need to be compelling, real and bold.
This is what the United Independent Party is all about.
What We Stand For
Businesses grow and hire people because they make and sell things people want to buy – and because people can afford to buy them. In the 21st century, much of what we make or buy is sold by small- and medium-sized businesses – and yet our state’s job creation policies seem stuck in an earlier era. Rather than enormous giveaways to big companies, our job creation policies must be re-focused on fostering and supporting the development of small- and medium-sized businesses. This includes:
- Reducing healthcare expenses by $2 billion a year through ending monopolistic hospital mergers, thereby putting more money in the pockets of consumers and making it easier for businesses to hire, invest and grow.
- A moratorium on corporate giveaway tax breaks, pending implementation of an ongoing policy that our government receive a guaranteed rate of return from these businesses.
- Affordable housing, the foundation of a thriving economy in any state. The Falchuk-Jennings Administration will recognize the need to increase the production of housing of every variety – crucial for our ability to retain and grow a vibrant workforce and competitive businesses.
Dramatically high health care costs in Massachusetts are among the biggest problems facing families and businesses. Evan’s plan to tackle health care costs has two parts.
What’s driving our high health care costs is that giant hospital systems are gobbling up hospitals across the state – today 72% of the market is controlled by these systems. We believe these monopolistic systems, which use their power to push through the price hikes that lead to skyrocketing premiums for consumers, must be stopped, plain and simple.
The second part of our plan is to create a fee schedule that will apply equally to all hospitals, like Maryland has done. If this reduces hospitals costs by even 5%, that’s two billion dollars a year in savings that would go directly back into the pockets of Massachusetts individuals, families and businesses – where they belong.
Housing and Thriving Communities
The fact is median incomes in Massachusetts haven’t changed for the past decade, but the cost of living for individuals and families has increased dramatically, particularly when it comes to health care and housing costs.
The Falchuk-Jennings Administration will recognize the need to increase the production of housing of every variety, including affordable and modestly priced workforce housing, multi-family housing, transit-oriented development, and adaptive reuse of existing buildings. Many examples exist – but not enough. Housing costs are a real constraint on businesses’ ability to expand, and create real hardships for Massachusetts families.
We know we can no longer view housing and community planning through the same lens we’ve been using for the past half-century. Thriving communities are built from the ground up, but cities and towns are held back by state policy. With smart, brave reforms in this key area, Massachusetts communities can be partners in securing a robust, diversified, and rich economic future for the Commonwealth.
It’s clear to us and most people in Massachusetts that we are at a crossroads when it comes to our education system. Our education plan, “Action to Honors,” has two parts.
First, we must immediately revise the Chapter 70 funding formula to reflect current realities, including rising health care costs, greater special education needs, and increased use of technology. The state is required to update its calculation of this formula every two years, but has not done so in a decade. The failure to address the Chapter 70 problem stands in the way of the state’s ability to effectively deal with the growing demand for charter schools.
Second, the next governor must lead and provide a serious dialogue and concrete plan of action on re-imagining our educational system. We would convene a visionary group – including teachers, parents, students, academics, union groups and others – to determine what an educational system would look like that was modern, advanced, highly functioning, and student-centric, and then work toward that much-needed goal.
For nearly a century, Massachusetts has had a “flat tax,” which means that everyone – no matter their income – pays the same rate. Modernizing our tax code requires changing our state constitution. To do this, the Falchuk- Jennings Administration will form a non-partisan Tax Modernization Commission that will create the framework for a tax code that is built for the 21st century.
In an environment where voters don’t feel they’re getting a good value from state government services, this does not represent a call to universally raise taxes. Rather, it would entail a more modern tax code less regressive in nature; for example, a structure where people who spend less pay less in taxes.
To read my responses to the Boston Globe’s candidate questionnaire on tax policy, visit here.
Transportation / Infrastructure
Repairing and maintaining our existing infrastructure should be our highest transportation priority. Providing for the long-term maintenance of our infrastructure requires a serious, long-term vision and financing plan. Taking this on is our responsibility for now and for future generations.
A statewide vision is in order. The western part of our state is underserved by our current public transportation system. New passenger rail service from Springfield to Hartford can strengthen the economy and cultural vibrancy of the Commonwealth, but transportation cannot be viewed in a vacuum. Comprehensive planning policy is needed in order to ensure that communities in the Pioneer Valley, Worcester County and the Berkshires fully benefit from positive returns on this major public infrastructure investment.
To read more specific details on our ideas for transportation and smart growth in Massachusetts, visit here.
Waste / Corruption
We often hear there isn’t enough money for needed programs in Massachusetts. The biggest challenges facing our state budget are the misallocation of state resources to programs, corporate tax breaks that don’t work or don’t make sense, excessive administrative expenses, and other unaccountable spending. Reallocating that spending to needed programs such as housing, education, and services that help our children, senior citizens and veterans makes a lot more sense than spending millions on State House office furnishings or huge, multi-million-dollar corporate tax breaks. It’s time to take a common sense approach and responsibly reallocate.
Proposed Expansion of the Boston Convention Center
The plan to expand the convention center involves massive borrowing by the state in order to raise the $1 billion needed for the project. Assuming Massachusetts had a billion extra dollars to spend, I, like a lot of people throughout the Commonwealth, can think of much better ways to spend it than this.
Our first priority must be to address the very real day-to-day priorities people face – rather than subsidizing expensive building projects. We have over 400 structurally deficient bridges in Massachusetts. We shouldn’t wait until tragedy strikes before we finally take firm action to address an increasingly critical issue. Second, 44,000 kids under age five in Massachusetts don’t have access to early childhood education; funding this would cost a fraction of the $1 billion being spent on convention space. Third, consider senior citizens in Massachusetts. Too many of them face bankruptcy or financial hardship paying for nursing home care and expensive prescription drugs. Consider how many could be helped by even a fraction of that billion dollars proposed to expand the Boston Convention Center.
The state needs to be properly funding higher education, and at the same time taking a serious look at universities’ administrative costs. Excessive administrative costs mean that money that would otherwise go to education or support for students is being misallocated. The twin problems of insufficient funding and wasteful spending must be addressed together, in order to serve the needs of students in our Commonwealth.
We will support additional options to refinance student loans, and work to create additional loan forgiveness programs that simultaneously help students and the Commonwealth’s public policy objectives.
Like 93% of Americans and many representatives of other New England states that are calling for GMO labeling, I am in favor of Massachusetts doing the same. People are entitled to transparency and disclosure about the foods they and their children eat. I’m disappointed that legislation calling for GMO labeling in Massachusetts has either died or is stuck in committee this session.
I urge the legislature to move on this important bill. If this fails to happen, as Governor, I will propose and support legislation requiring the clear labeling of genetically modified ingredients, similar to laws passed in other New England states.
The guilty verdict in the probation department patronage hiring trial brings to a close a sad episode in the Commonwealth, made worse by the number of “no comments” we hear from current lawmakers on the verdict.
The next governor must work to restore public confidence in our state’s government. I will propose legislation in my first 100 days to create a Fair Hiring Unit within the office of the Inspector General to monitor hiring, and to conduct systematic reviews of all public hiring – including the review of any complaints of alleged hires based on political or monetary favors.
All jobs in the Falchuk Administration will be based on merit only. The process for hiring must be transparent and I will call for an immediate moratorium on “patronage” jobs in my Administration, even if giving out such jobs is technically legal under current law. To attract, hire and retain top-notch employees we have to raise the bar, and restore public confidence that the hiring process is on the level.
When it comes to growing small businesses in Massachusetts, we have to be candid about what works – and what doesn’t. Decades-old arguments of “supply side economics” versus “tax and spend” no longer fit our modern age.
The truth is that the biggest barriers to growth are exorbitant health care and housing costs. These costs are borne by businesses and consumers, and make the cost of living in Massachusetts among the highest in the nation. The government has a central role to play in tackling these problems and building an environment best suited for growth.
Health care costs can be lowered by going to the root cause – the monopolization of the hospital market by large hospital systems. Ending these practices in a way that lowers hospital costs by just 5% will return up to $2 billion a year to consumers and businesses.
We must ramp up housing production through a serious, comprehensive policy to facilitate construction of transit-oriented, multi-family housing development and creative, shared work space alternatives.
Finally, our education system must foster a dynamic program of vocational education, including links to community and technical schools, and public-private partnerships to ensure curricula match actual job opportunities.
The abundance of natural gas presents an opportunity – and a challenge. Burning natural gas generates less greenhouse gases than other fossil fuels, but Massachusetts is overly reliant on it as a source of energy. Our energy policy will be to aggressively invest in renewable energy infrastructure to meet our goal of 25% power generation from renewable sources by 2020. We should work to generate as much of our new energy needs as possible from renewable sources so that our energy supplies are resilient, diverse, predictable and environmentally responsible.
We must work aggressively to combat climate change:
First, we must harden our infrastructure to ensure it is resilient enough to withstand stronger and more frequent storms, as well as other natural and man-made disasters.
Second, we must reduce our reliance on fossil fuels – particularly natural gas – by pursuing aggressive goals to generate more than 25% of the state’s energy from renewable sources by 2020.
A diverse mix of energy sources – such as wind and solar – is a critical part of responsible planning given the environmental, political and other uncertainties this century brings.
We must get Big Money out of politics by fundamentally changing our campaign finance system. Right now in Massachusetts, according to state law created by Democrats and Republicans, if you’re a member of one of the two major parties you’re allowed to raise up to $15,000 per person, per year through various state and federal accounts. As an independent ticket, we are only allowed to raise $1,500 per person, per year. That’s a blatantly unfair 10-to-1 advantage that muffles the voices of so many voters and independent candidates. It’s un-American.
I have challenged all of the candidates in the race for governor to agree to introduce legislation within their first 100 days in office, should they be elected governor, calling for them to take specific action to overturn Citizens United via Constitutional Convention, and in the process end all spending from Super PACs (Click here to read the details). I also challenged each candidate to go on the record for voters specifically where they stand on Super PACs – do they support their existence, or do they think their influence should be removed from our political system? To date, no candidate has responded to either sensible challenge. Voters deserve a lot more than this.
We don’t want to live in what are, in effect, gated communities, where we turn a blind eye to the very real challenges faced by families and individuals in need of help.
But the programs that have been set up over the past 50 years to fix these problems were crafted during times and circumstances radically different from what people face today. We must be brave enough to ask the fundamental questions: Are our programs working? What do the innovations and research of the last decades tell us about what makes a real, meaningful difference in the lives of people and communities in underprivileged areas?
Massachusetts, home to some of the nation’s most cutting-edge work on how to take what we know works and bring it to communities in need, has the opportunity to take the visionary lead on this front. Led by private-sector players, successful initiatives must become an increasingly important part of “social innovation,” maximizing the savvy know-how that helps communities break out of poverty cycles.
A related core issue on this front is housing. One of the drivers of poverty is people not being able to afford housing. High rents and the fact that so many of our citizens are spending a majority of their incomes on housing contribute to an untenable situation for countless families in Massachusetts. This must change. We must invest in the production of housing of every variety, including more affordable options for lower-income families.
Massachusetts veterans have bravely served us around the world. We have to make sure that our policy-making matches with the same level of enthusiastic support for vets that you see on holidays like Veterans Day and Memorial Day.
For example, we must ensure that veterans have access to health care, jobs, education or job training, and housing as a way to fulfill our obligation to them and show our gratitude. Ensuring they have access to the services veterans need and deserve should not be on the negotiating table.
We must do more to help heal the mental and physical wounds of war. At a minimum, much of the considerable amount of money currently being spent on tax breaks for huge corporations should be reallocated to targeted job training and housing programs that serve our veterans.
Our schools, businesses and other places open to the public need to be accessible to everyone, period. Employers must provide reasonable accommodations for all who require them, and do more to ensure that children with learning disabilities are able to get the kind of education that will help them as they develop and grow.
The proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline
While burning natural gas generates less greenhouse gases than other fossil fuels, Massachusetts already is overly reliant on natural gas for electricity generation. I believe we must work to generate as much of our energy needs as possible here in Massachusetts. Our energy supply must be resilient, diverse, predictable and consistent with our responsibilities under the Global Warming Solutions Act, and aligned with the opportunities of the growing renewable energy sector.
On this basis, I oppose the proposed Kinder Morgan Pipeline, and believe it is a bad deal for the people of the Commonwealth. The estimated $1.2 billion required just to build the pipeline would be much better spent on infrastructure for distributed, renewable solutions such as wind and solar, smart grid technology and other ways to make Massachusetts more modern and efficient. In addition, the substantial takings of private land, and the disruption of local communities that this pipeline would bring, are unacceptable costs.
To read more about our opposition to the proposed Kinder Morgan Pipeline, visit here.
We believe workers have a right to join unions, and to use those organizations to negotiate their pay. The kind of hard bargaining that happens on both sides of the aisle may not always be the easiest thing in the world, but is how the process is supposed to work.
Women in Massachusetts must have access to the full range of reproductive health services, whether primary care, birth control, reproductive health care or cancer screenings. We are pro-choice, and support women’s right to choose.
The Falchuk-Jennings Administration would be vigilant in efforts to ensure that access to reproductive health services is neither politicized nor put at risk in any way.
Women should be free from all discrimination – whether related to pay, workplace advances or treatment, or differing costs of health care.
The fact that median incomes have stayed flat while the cost of living keeps going up in Massachusetts is one of the major challenges we face. We believe we need a strategic approach to more concretely address this, one that includes increasing the minimum wage to adjust for and keep pace with inflation. We also believe providing more effective job training and better matching of our schools’ curricula with companies’ actual job needs is absolutely needed.
But we must go further, and think strategically when it comes to people getting ahead in Massachusetts. Tackling the rising costs of living – such as our daunting health care costs and lack of affordable housing – also are vital to ensuring Massachusetts is the best place to live and work in the country.
Valuing Our 65+ Population
Over 90% of adults 65 and over want to “age in place” in their own homes and neighborhoods, AARP has found. Because of this, we will focus on improving our outdated housing policy so more people are able to stay in their own homes. We have proposed a detailed Thriving Communities Action Plan that will fundamentally change the way states work with towns and cities, for the better. Right now, the interests of the states and communities on the local level are unaligned, because of policies dating back to the 1970’s. This type of thinking is outdated and in need of reform. This is the first step to making sure people can afford to stay in their own homes and neighborhoods.
Further, 70% of people age 65 and over are going to need some sort of long-term care, care that can cost as much as $100,000 per year. We will make it a core priority for people age 50 and over working to overhaul our long-term care system so this care is more affordable for seniors and their families. We propose a Long Term Care Insurance Pool. Through this new model every taxpayer in Massachusetts would be required to pay a $5 a month premium into the pool, with the state matching this amount, which could be paid for by cutting some of the huge tax breaks our state government gives out to large corporations. The money in that pool would be off-limits except to pay for the cost of long-term care for people in Massachusetts.
Rise of Independent Voters
While most people see Massachusetts as a deep blue state, the majority of voters here – at least 53% – are “unenrolled,” choosing to be independent of the Democratic and Republican parties. This is the highest percentage of independents in the entire country.
Voters are increasingly calling for smart, brave reform of our politics, economy and government. They don’t see that coming from the Democratic and Republican parties, so it’s no wonder they are leaving the two major parties in search of something that better fits their actual needs and priorities.
This isn’t to say that the Democratic and Republican parties and their leaders haven’t done important things throughout their history. But the very idea of having only two parties ruling the day belongs to a different era, not to our world today. Voters want candidates who can say – clearly and openly – where they stand; who can introduce new, innovative ideas; and who aren’t beholden to the special interests that fuel the two parties.
We are committed to ensuring the law applies equally to everyone and that everyone’s civil rights are protected.
As governor, Evan will appoint an Assistant Secretary for LGBTQ Affairs, tasked with coordinating and managing across departments the implementation of programs in current law, in ways that are culturally competent and responsive.
We will also work hard to eliminate the discrimination, bullying, and demeaning of people based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. This means talking about and aggressively confronting these hard realities on an ongoing basis.
Equal means equal – for everyone.
We believe that artisans of all kinds drive economic growth by making our communities into something more than just places with a collection of shops and restaurants. By bringing their individuality and creativity, they transform communities into places where something is “going on,” where interesting, unpredictable and unexpected things are created and happen. The interplay between this kind of energy and the business community is the kind of thing that makes people want to live in and be a part of thriving, dynamic communities.
The creative arts also must play a more important role in the way we educate our kids. It is important to learn the skills that a STEM-based curriculum teaches, but the greatest set of tools we can give students are the skills of critical thinking, independence, resilience and “grit” – the belief that they can overcome any obstacle they face. The creative arts are one of the most powerful ways to teach students these skills. Unfortunately, programs of creative arts have been significantly cut in recent years. It is critical to re-assess the state’s Chapter 70 funding formula to reflect the realities of educating students in the second decade of the 21st century, including the need for increased funding for creative arts education. We strongly support efforts to transform STEM to STEAM.
To read Evan’s responses to MassCreative’s questionnaire, click here.
We cannot continue to treat crime solely as a “crime and punishment” issue. Rather, we have an opportunity to view it as an issue of public health. Taking this approach means identifying the root causes of the problem – all of the social and economic and educational problems that lead to crime – and deal with them more directly and strategically.
The plain truth is the “war on drugs” has been a failure. It is the next governor’s job to re-frame this discussion, as well as take immediate action to fix our broken sentencing, parole, probation and bail systems. To do this we must apply existing data and evidence-based solutions to reduce recidivism, ease re-entry into communities, and extend educational opportunities to eliminate the pathway that can sometimes lead young people to crime.
At the United Independent Party, when we say “Everyone is equal, and everyone’s civil liberties must be protected,” we mean everyone. Despite the fact that it’s 2014, gender inequality is, unfortunately, still very much a part of the landscape. Our lawmakers, and our society as a whole, must do much more to combat discrimination on this front – whether related to pay inequity, discrimination in the workplace, sexual harassment, or physical intimidation or abuse.
The first thing every lawmaker should be doing is very clearly acknowledging that this form of discrimination does, in fact, persist. The next thing we must all do is pledge to take action to root it out – beginning with equal pay for equal work. In Massachusetts, women currently earn 77% for every dollar a man earns, when controlling for factors such as education and work experience, according to the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women. As such, we call for legislation to close this wage gap.
In addition, there is an opportunity to leverage the creativity and resources of the private sector by creating, in tandem with state government, a”Workplace Equality Seal of Approval” which businesses throughout the Commonwealth would earn. This would demonstrate their established fair pay standards, their active and continuing efforts to educate personnel on sexual harassment and physical intimidation, and their work to ensure equality of opportunity throughout their workplace. I would also require that if a business were to contract in any way with the state, that business would be required to earn this seal.
If leaders mean it when they say “everyone is equal,” they must put policy in place to back this up.
The cornerstone of our democracy is the right to vote. As such, voters must always have free and fair access to the polls. Recent very low rates of voting are troubling symptoms. We should be supporting policy initiatives that will make it easier for people to register to vote, and to show up at the polls. Roadblocks of any sort that infringe upon or impede this fundamental right have no place in the Commonwealth, just as they should not in any other state or territory. We must work to streamline voter registration efforts and access to polls.
You have a 2nd amendment right to own a gun. Our government is able to regulate that. The important question is, where do we draw the line? The important actions for our state’s government are to help ensure the safety of people in Massachusetts, both gun owners and non-gun owners alike, and to protect the rights of lawful gun owners. Doing more to see that young people find different, constructive paths for their lives should be a greater priority than more regulations on firearms kept in a safe or used by a licensed sportsman.
It is clear that the prohibition on marijuana will end. It’s just a question of when, and how we plan for it. It’s time for lawmakers to begin serious discussions now on the key questions regarding taxation, regulation, barring underage use, and strengthening public health and education efforts.
Because so many people in our Commonwealth have been affected by the illegal market for marijuana, as the legal market develops, we have a particular responsibility to not only maintain careful oversight of this industry, but direct a portion of today’s proceeds toward common-sense, needed services – including job training and programs to assist reintegration for people previously incarcerated for drug-related offenses.
We are against the death penalty. Our justice system is imperfect and it is impossible to reverse a mistake made when the death penalty has erroneously been carried out.
Casinos in Massachusetts
Each city and town should have the ability to decide whether they want a casino in their community. We don’t support the effort to repeal the current law, which was duly passed and allows each community to decide if it wants a casino. Our federal government has become gridlocked in partisan battles to repeal laws – we must avoid that partisan trap.