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Donnelly or Hurd?

The post title poses a question for you. Democrats and independents in Arlington, Burlington, Billerica, and parts of Woburn and Lexington have a choice of who to vote for in the Democratic primary on Tuesday, September 16th. Which candidate will you vote for?

I’ve already made up my mind. I’m not going to talk about my choice in this post, but I think my presentation here is unbiased. Here’s the information; you get to decide.

Here are the two candidates’ published positions on the issues. I’ve stripped out the names so you can judge the issues on their own merits. The candidates are revealed at the bottom.

Candidate 1

Candidate 2

Local Aid

The unpredictability of Local Aid combined with unfunded State Mandates has made fiscal planning a nightmare for the 4th Middlesex communities. Most communities in Fiscal Year 2008 are still receiving less Local Aid than they did in Fiscal Year 2002!

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candidate was an active member of the coalition that included the Board of Selectmen, School Committee, and town financial leaders that created and adopted a five year fiscal stability plan that includes controlled growth in our annual town and school budgets, a cap on healthcare costs, a financial need-based tax exemption for our seniors, and aggressive efforts to restore state aid cuts back to the 2002 level. As a result, the Town of Arlington has been able to survive the local aid roller coaster. candidate didn’t stop there; he kept searching for (and finding!) new revenue streams from municipal and overnight parking, public/private funding partnerships, and by the consolidating department heads.

The State’s Local Aid formula needs to be overhauled. Services need to be prioritized and funding guaranteed. Some local cities and towns have been punished for being fiscally responsible while others were rewarded (bailed out). We need to work together at the local, state, and federal level to ensure a steady income stream. One GAO study in the late 1990’s estimated that local communities receive one cent in services for every dollar we pay in federal taxes and eleven cents for every dollar we pay in state taxes – those ratios can be improved with a consistent and cooperative effort from the local, state and federal legislative bodies. The solutions include forming coalitions to improve our purchasing power, negotiating with health insurance carriers to seek group benefits, closing corporate loopholes, and pursuing regionalization opportunities. Local Police and Fire departments have successfully created and implemented mutual aid programs for public safety. We can expand on that concept and share educational resources, infrastructure repairs and other costly items.

“As your State Senator, Local Aid will be my highest priority. We can’t educate our children, provide public safety, or repair our roads and bridges without a steady stream of support from Beacon Hill. The citizens of Arlington, Billerica, Burlington, Lexington, and Woburn will be my only Special Interest Groups.” — candidate

Education

Chapter 70 Funding

The strength of our school systems not only prepares our youth to succeed and excel, but also increases property values, stabilizes tax revenue, and improves the overall quality of life in our communities.

State Chapter 70 Education funding for schools is the major source of state funding for public education. candidate supports changing the existing Chapter 70 Foundation Budget Formula to create a fair and more equitable distribution of funds to all districts through out the state. Specifically, he supports efforts to raise the minimum amount of Chapter 70 funds a community receives to 20% of foundation, and increasing foundation amounts to ensure they reflect actual expenditures. Currently the foundation budget statewide is 18% below the average expenditures schools are making presently.

School Building Assistance Program

Children need to be schooled in modern, safe, energy efficient facilities.

candidate worked tirelessly as a precinct captain during the rebuild campaign for Arlington’s first three elementary schools and as co-chair of the successful campaign to gain approval to rebuild the remaining four elementary schools.

When funding shortfalls threatened the completion of the Peirce and Hardy School playgrounds, it was candidate who recommended funding alternatives to finish the job.

candidate will devote his energies to ensure the School Building Assistance Program is properly funded and to advocate for timely state funding to modernize schools within our State Senate district.

I was honored to co-chair the successful Rebuild Our Schools effort with candidate. Our new schools are a testament to his leadership abilities and tireless community activism.” — Charlie Foskett

Health Care

One of the most fundamental and vital needs of our residents is access to affordable health care, but the cost of health care has become prohibitive for far too many individuals and families. Many residents among us have had to make a choice between basic necessities and health insurance. In addition, the cost of employee health insurance for municipalities in recent years has become a major budget buster, absorbing a significant percentage of new tax revenues. I am committed to supporting initiatives to provide all citizens with affordable health care coverage. I am also concerned about patient/nurse ratios and the safety impacts resulting from overburdened nurses. Issues of safety in health care settings must be addressed with definitive action for the sake of both patients and healthcare providers.

Energy and the Environment

There is no greater responsibility than to leave our children a healthier world than the one we inherited. The maxim, “Think Globally, Act Locally” is a perfect mantra that should guide all policy decisions. Individuals, corporations, and government bodies have made choices in recent history that have negatively impacted our environment. A recent increase in information and education about living “green” has led to greater awareness and action, but real change requires the support of government policy. I will support initiatives that have a positive impact on our struggling environment and natural resources.

With the current energy crisis it is imperative that we focus on developing alternative energy or ‘clean power’ resources that will provide both environmental and economic relief. ‘Clean power’ is generated by using these resources and not by the burning of fossil fuels. Residential, municipal, and commercial use of renewable energy resources will significantly reduce the amount of environmentally damaging pollutants and emissions. I will support legislation that encourages the development and use of alternative energy resources.

When the residents of the Reed’s Brook neighborhood asked candidate to help with their flooding problems, they were amazed at the results. candidate, not only helped get the problem resolved, but also proposed using CDBG monies from his subcommittee to transform the vacant landfill into Arlington’s newest open space and recreational facility.

As a member of the Mugar Land Advisory Committee, candidate fought to prevent future development, protecting neighborhoods from increased traffic, flooding, and pollution.

Civil Rights

I believe that all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation are entitled to equal rights. It is important that we embrace our individuality while, at the same time, working together to ensure that everyone’s rights are protected under the law.

Marriage Equality

I strongly support same sex marriage, and I oppose any and all attempts to introduce discrimination of any kind into our state Constitution.

Pro-Choice

Although the decision to terminate a pregnancy is no doubt a difficult one, I believe it is a deeply personal decision that should be made only by the woman who faces it. I support each woman’s right to make that decision for herself.

Transportation

Many of the roads and bridges in the cities and towns through out the state are in deplorable and in some cases unsafe conditions. Chapter 90 state transportation funding is a critical resource necessary to address these concerns. Our transportation infrastructure needs to be updated and take into account components that encourage residents to use alterative forms of transportation such as bicycling and walking. I also support the enhancement of our public transportation system, including the extension of the Green Line and improvements that will create incentives for residents to use public transportation.

Veteran’s Services

We live in a free society today because of the sacrifices of so many heroes in our armed forces. As the son of a WWII Marine Veteran and the brother of a dedicated soldier killed in Vietnam, I fully understand the importance of proudly recognizing our Veterans’ great service and the need to provide them with the critical resources necessary to transition back into the community and the workforce. As your State Senator, I will never forget and never fail to provide for those who have served our Country.

Economy

State government, through its policies and legislation, can shape an environment in which a strong and vibrant economy can thrive: where businesses can recognize opportunities for growth and success; where individuals have confidence they can attain financial health and wellbeing for themselves and their families; and where cities and towns have the resources to provide critical services to residents and businesses.

Fundamental economic forces are far beyond the control of any one state, and no one policy or single piece of legislation can ensure a strong economy at all times. But we can create a positive economic climate that enables competitiveness and fosters economic health through policies that provide a world-class education, address our energy, infrastructure and health care needs, that protect our environment, and that support our most vulnerable residents.

Jobs drive the economy. We must attract good jobs to the state, and research tells us over and over that the quality of our education, good job training, a modernized and efficient infrastructure and regulations that are fair and easy to navigate have the most impact on attracting businesses to a state and enabling existing businesses to grow. Far more than tax incentives to specific business sectors, the investment we make in education and in our infrastructure, including energy efficiencies that will hold down rising utilities costs, will pay off in more and better jobs for our residents. These are smart business investments. We can and should make these investments and our legislation should reflect these realities.

We must also, as a commonwealth, provide protections for our most vulnerable residents especially during times of economic strain. Nobody should have to choose between staying warm, seeing a doctor, having enough to eat, keeping their home, or paying for needed medications. Keeping health care costs down, lowering energy costs, finding ways for people to access some of their assets without giving up their homes, and instituting progressive tax reform are ways we can provide these protections in a financially responsible way.

Helping our cities and towns control costs and provide crucial services is another key piece of the economic puzzle. The Green Communities Act passed recently by the Legislature provides loans and grants to municipalities to finance the cost of energy efficient improvement; it is an example of good legislation that will save communities money while also helping us address environmental challenges.

The study to examine the feasibility of expanding municipally owned utilities is another example of smart legislation; towns with a municipal utility have been able to hold electricity costs, for both residents and businesses, far below those in other communities.

Our cities and towns need help in better controlling health care costs. Municipal employees have to share in the costs of providing quality healthcare but a mechanism must exist that will protect them from extraordinary out-of-pocket costs. The GIC, Group Purchasing Agreements and other collaborative initiatives are a few alternative methods communities could take advantage of to provide quality health care coverage at a reduced cost.

We must give cities and towns additional revenue tools to reduce our over-reliance on residential property taxes. We must close the loophole that exempts telephone companies from paying an estimated $78 million in local property taxes on telephone poles and equipment, and we should allow cities and towns to decide if it’s right for them to impose a small local meals tax and increase the hotel tax at the local level.

State government can shape an environment in which a strong and vibrant economy can thrive. Through smart legislation and shared commitment we can create a positive economic climate where we all share in the wealth and wellbeing it has to offer.

Education

Enshrined in the Massachusetts Constitution is the duty of the Legislature “to cherish public schools” at the local level. I believe as a society we are both legally and morally obligated to provide a high quality education for all our children, regardless of race or economic class, in every city and town. I also know that education can no longer end in 12th grade; that we truly must be lifelong learners.

Massachusetts’ public school students rank at the top on national achievement tests, but our school systems are struggling to close a troubling achievement gap. School Districts are also struggling to maintain core services, and parents face an annual cycle of program reductions and increased user fees.

We have a real opportunity to address the issues facing our education system. The Governor’s Readiness Project, much of which I support, provides a set of recommendations and a direction for creating a system in which to deliver a first class education. Now is the time for strong leadership to help refine those recommendations and develop solutions for implementing them. It is time to take the next steps in education reform.

As a senator, I will work to improve teaching and learning throughout the Commonwealth so our children will be prepared to work in the 21st century global economy. I support the adequacy study which will determine what truly is needed to provide a 21st century education. I will also push for a study to determine the real costs of adequately implementing the increased mandates under Education Reform and the unfunded mandates under No Child Left Behind. Once we know the real costs, I will work with my colleagues to fully fund the state’s obligation for public schools Making this investment will provide a work force ready to meet the challenges our world is facing and will keep our economy strong.

Teachers are the backbone of our educational system and we must do what is necessary to recruit and retain outstanding educational leaders and highly skilled teachers. I hope to introduce legislation that provides scholarship assistance and loan forgiveness for individuals who teach in public schools for a defined period of time, and I support additional funding for professional development for educators.

We must be sure that children with special needs receive the education they need. I will fight to ensure that the state meets its moral and legal obligation to provide a full and fair education to all children and that we find ways to support our cities and towns to fund it.

We also must ensure that every child gets a head start on their educational journey by supporting the expansion of early education programs for three and four year old children and full day kindergarten.

As someone who continued to earn college degrees as an adult, I know that Massachusetts’ workers need to be lifelong learners. We need a highly skilled workforce and job training that will allow us to meet the challenges of the new economy. We can no longer afford to under-fund our state university system. I will support efforts to provide better funding for our state colleges and universities, and I will support Governor Patrick’s efforts to make the community college system tuition-free.

I am committed to making the Massachusetts public education system and work force training the best in the world. Our economic future and the future of our children and grandchildren depend on it!

Environment

I believe that our future quality of life as well as the overall health of our economy depends on the energy and environmental choices we make today. A 21st century economy will not run on the fuels of the 19th century. We know that increased use of clean, renewable energy makes both economic and environmental sense for Massachusetts. I support new offshore wind farm projects and will propose legislation that makes it easier for cities and towns to develop their own sources of wind energy.
Both because of rising global demand for energy and the threat of global warming, our kids and grandkids will increasingly get their energy from different sources than in the past. Our state has passed two important pieces of legislation this year that provide incentives for companies that develop new clean energy technologies — and jobs — right here in Massachusetts, and I want to continue this work in the next legislative session. We can improve the Green Jobs bill with more job training to ensure our workforce can access the new opportunities created from the alternative energy sector. The Green Communities Act is a great start in overhauling our state’s energy policies, but we need to go further to empower our cities and towns to move to more efficient and renewable energy sources.
The Massachusetts Community Preservation Act, which allows cities and towns to make decisions to shape their own futures, has proven to be an effective tool for protecting our environment at the local level. I will support changes to this important law that will make it easier for cities and towns to undertake needed local projects without raising taxes.

Providing clean, safe drinking water is one of the basic responsibilities of government. We must work to insure that communities receive state assistance to maintain water treatment systems. I will also insist on strict enforcement of the laws against water pollution.
I am concerned that Massachusetts companies are still using hundreds of millions of pounds of toxic substances every year. Toxic chemicals not only threaten our health and environment, they also are increasingly banned by countries to which we export our products. I want to work to pass the Massachusetts Safer Alternatives Act that will require the use of less toxic materials whenever possible and will work for strict enforcement on bans on toxic toys.

We need to grow our state’s economy, but we want to make sure it is smart growth. I am a strong supporter of public transportation, and will work to encourage future development and jobs along existing transit lines. I want to make it easier for residents to use alternatives like the Minuteman Bikeway, a safe and pollution-free means of transportation that we need to make accessible year-round.

I also support smart conservation, and would seek to target state funds for land protection to protect dwindling open space in our cities and towns. I would work to secure Mary Cummings Park in Woburn, to protect critical sites in the Alewife region of Arlington, and to save endangered farmland throughout the district. On Burlington’s “landlock parcel” we need to strike a balance between the need for additional tax revenue and the needs of residents in Lexington and Burlington to be protected from the problems that come with over development in their neighborhoods and the loss of open space.

Our state and metropolitan parks, and the water bodies that run through them are public treasures and over the years they have been neglected due to budget cuts. Massachusetts ranks a shocking 49th out of 50 states in spending on parks. We must begin again to care for them properly so that our parks and beaches are special places for everyone to enjoy. We must continue the cleanup of the Mystic River watershed and take stronger action to control the chronic flooding that results from unwise development. Funding is available to study additional pumping capacity at the Amelia Earhart Dam; I will work with the Governor and DCR to ensure the study is completed and acted upon.

I believe that our future quality of life as well as our economic well being depends on the energy and environmental choices we make today. With the right policies, smart development and a commitment on the part of all us we can ensure a sustainable future.

Civil Rights

Reproductive Rights

Privacy is a fundamental American value, one as essential as the rights to free speech and freedom of religion. That value includes protecting private medical decisions, such as the right to choose. The decision about whether to terminate a pregnancy is the most personal choice a woman can make. This decision must remain solely between her, her family and her doctor- free from interference by elected officials. I believe each of us has the responsibility to stand up and safeguard this right.

I am committed to making sure that every woman can make decisions about her reproductive health without government intrusion. I support legislation that would repeal the unconstitutional pre-Roe V. Wade abortion ban in Massachusetts. I am also opposed to mandatory waiting periods, repealing the “Buffer-zone” law and so-called “informed consent” legislation.

We need to make it a priority in this Commonwealth to promote a comprehensive approach to reducing unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS. All young people and women of reproductive age must be prepared with the appropriate knowledge and must have access to the services necessary to make smart decisions about their sexual health.

I am concerned about the high levels of teen sexuality and I support the teaching of abstinence and birth control to minors, but I do not support “abstinence only” programs. Prevention is the best solution to protecting our young people from facing the difficult reality associated with sexually transmitted diseases and unintended pregnancies.

I believe the Commonwealth needs to invest in family planning and teen pregnancy prevention services. We need to improve access to emergency contraception and provide honest, age-appropriate health education to our young people.

Marriage Equality/LGBT Issues

I support the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s decision in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health which recognized marriage equality as a basic right. I am committed to full equality for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. I oppose any effort to overturn or pare back that decision through constitutional amendment. The recent repeal of the discriminatory 1913 law that prevented out-of-state same sex couples from receiving marriage licenses in this state was the right choice for the legislature and the governor to make. I also support the recent law ensuring equality in access to MassHealth coverage for same-sex couples.

Despite these recent successes, there is work to be done. Massachusetts is still among the minority of states that lack comprehensive bullying prevention and intervention legislation. Guaranteeing safe schools for students is essential to our children attaining educational excellence.

I am troubled by the teen suicide rate among LGBT youth. I support programs whose mission is to save the lives of these youths, such as those sponsored by the Department of Public Health and the Massachusetts Commission on GLBT Youth.

The Legislature should play a role in achieving full equality for everyone in our society. I am committed to working towards that end.

Candidate 1 is Jack Hurd. Read more on his website. Candidate 2 is Ken Donnelly. Read more on his website.

Comments

Comment from Quantum Mechanic
Time: August 24, 2008, 6:38 pm

Seeing who has endorsed and is going on record as supporting Donnelly is more than enough to make me vote for Hurd (not that I’m thrilled with either of them).

Comment from Diss Crete
Time: August 25, 2008, 9:01 pm

They both seem like communists if you ask me.

Pingback from Dan Dunn’s Podium » Why I’m Voting for Jack Hurd
Time: September 14, 2008, 6:06 pm

[…] By all reports, Ken is a nice guy.  His stated positions are very similar to Jack’s – you can compare them here. […]