Massachusetts State Treasurer Steve Grossman said his “track record” for creating jobs and spurring economic development, both as a small-business owner and a politician, gives him a marked edge over four other Democratic candidates running to succeed Deval Patrick as the commonwealth’s next governor.
“I'm proud to be the only Democrat running for governor who spent his entire life creating jobs,” said Grossman today during the third gubernatrial roundtable discussion hosted by the Rappaport Center for Law and Public Service at Suffolk University Law School. “I have a track record on the issues that matter, that empower working people.”
50,000 manufacturing jobs
Grossman, who has served as chair of the Democratic Party in Massachusetts and nationally, affirmed his pledge to create 50,000 manufacturing jobs over the next five years if elected governor -- provided that “dynamic partnerships” are created among employers, vocational-technical schools and the state’s community colleges so that graduates may attain the necessary working skills.
“Manufacturing is in our bones in Massachusetts. It’s in our DNA,” said Grossman, a Newton resident. He noted that 250,000 people remain unemployed in the state, while another 250,000 remain underemployed.
“All over the state where we've lost tens if not hundreds of thousands of jobs in manufacturing, we can bring those jobs back in those places that have high levels of unemployment,” he said.
Education and jobs
Grossman said that significant numbers of jobs could be created over the next five years if the state were to make greater investments in public higher education to help students “alleviate that burden of debt that is drowning them and their families.”
Given the high costs of health care, Grossman said that the state must “revolutionize” the way health care is delivered to patients. He said he favors exploring an incentives program whereby debt-laden primary care physicians coming out of medical school would have their debt underwritten by the state if they practiced medicine for five years in a gateway city.
“We have a serious problem in Massachusetts with respect to primary care physicians,” Grossman said. “We don't have enough of them. I think it’s a crisis.”
Other methods to revolutionize health care include moving health care “as best as we can” to the state’s community hospitals and community health centers and creating incentives for wellness programs in every workplace in Massachusetts,” said Grossman.
“I want our major acute-care hospitals and hospital systems to be healthy. I want our community hospitals to be able to be healthy so that they can afford the technology they need to remain independent. I want our community health centers to be a vehicle for the kind of service and health care that’s delivered for many illnesses that can be done at a fraction of the cost,” he said. “If we can reduce the cost of health care and still maintain quality, that to me is a prescription of how you can reduce the growth of health care and then repurpose some of those funds to more important investments.”
Pre-K a priority
Grossman said that, if elected, he would make universal pre-K a “critical policy,” as nearly 25,000 4-year-olds remain on a Pre-K waiting list. This year’s budget takes only about 1,700 children off the waiting list, he added.
To fund universal pre-K, as well as other initiatives, Grossman offered the following suggestions:
• Grow the economy dynamically by creating more jobs and creating more profitable companies, which in turn pay taxes that can be invested back into the state
• Save money and use it to reinvest in the state
• Create public-private partnerships; call on the state’s business community to make larger investments in “the health of the Commonwealth”
• Not to rule out seeking additional revenue; an option that would have to be combined with meaningful tax reform, including increasing exemptions
Grossman said that he was “disappointed” with the current state budget which calls for dramatic cuts to mental health and substance abuse services.
He said that mandatory minimum jail sentences for low-level offenders must be overhauled and that the state must further invest in workforce training and other opportunities to help prisoners reclaim their lives upon release.
“To me that is our responsibility,” he said, “Leave no one behind, leave no one out.”
Grossman, who owns Grossman Marketing Group, a fourth-generation family business, said that he always has advocated for paid sick time and that his business has been a “union shop” for more than six decades. He is the creator of the Small Business Banking Partnership, a program that, since May 2011, has offered $1 billion in loans to small businesses throughout Massachusetts, specifically those owned by women, minorities, immigrants and veterans.
Referencing Patrick’s recent State of the Commonwealth address, Grossman said that he has always been in the “solutions business” to improve the quality of life for Massachusetts residents.
“All my life I’ve been in the solutions business–in business, in politics, in philanthropy, as state treasurer–and I hope to be in the solutions business every day as the governor of Massachusetts if you give me that privilege,” he said.
Grossman also lauded Patrick’s “magnificent job” regarding addressing climate change in the state. However, he added that only when the state adopted 1 percent of the budget for environmental needs would Massachusetts realize its “full potential” regarding clean energy.
While he acknowledged the potential for negative impacts from casinos in Massachusetts, including gambling addiction and small business impacts, Grossman said that he supports expanded gaming for two reasons–job creation and revenue. Casinos in the commonwealth would generate an additional $300 million in revenues for Massachusetts annually and create 15,000 jobs in construction and service sectors, he said.
“I continue to believe that although (casinos are) not the vehicle by which we will rebuild the kind of dynamic growth innovation economy that we aspire to, it is a piece of a solution,” he said.
Grossman added that, since his first gubernatorial campaign, he has learned to become a “better listener.”
“What makes me proud every day of my life to be a citizen of Massachusetts is that as long as there is a single friend, neighbor, colleague who lacks a job, who lacks hope, who lacks dignity, our job is not done,” Grossman said. “I'm running for governor because I believe the people of Massachusetts want proven leadership that will leave no one behind.”
The Rappaport Roundtable series, made possible by the support of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, gives candidates opportunities to introduce themselves and their ideas, outline their priorities and discuss pressing policy issues affecting the commonwealth today, in 2015, and beyond.