Massachusetts is facing serious and difficult challenges this election year, as evidenced by significant discontent on behalf of voters and by the refusal of most incumbents to debate and defend their records. I would like to take this opportunity to let the people of this district know what I believe, and how my ideas differ from those of the Democrats currently representing them. The two biggest challenges facing us today in Massachusetts are reversing the rapid expansion of state government over the last decade and transforming it into the creation of private sector jobs. The Williams Way covers three areas: an economic plan, state budget reform, and good government reforms. To illustrate how my plan differs from other recently elected officials, I have included the relevant roll calls.
Reduce Sales Tax to 5%
Reducing the sales tax will increase consumer spending in Massachusetts leading to economic expansion and more jobs.
- Representative Rush voted for the budget increasing the sales tax to 6.25% (Roll Call 09-087)
- Senator Walsh voted against reducing the sales tax not once, but twice (Roll Calls 09-263 & 10-364)
Reduce Personal State Income Tax to 5%
Reducing the personal income tax rate helps all taxpayers, especially small business owners who pay business taxes through their personal income tax returns.
- Representative Rush voted against reducing the personal income tax rate to 5% as the voters directed in 2000 (Roll Call 05-054)
Reduce Corporate Income Tax to 5%
Massachusetts has the 8th highest corporate tax burden in the country. Although recent legislation gradually reduces the corporate income tax rate, it instituted numerous changes to the overall corporate tax structure that place additional burdens on large employers. For example, multi-state corporations with a physical presence in the Commonwealth pay taxes based on income earned in other states and in other countries. Reducing the corporate tax rate will make Massachusetts more attractive to businesses, and ultimately create new jobs. It will also result in lower prices, as lower costs are passed through to the consumer.
- Senator Walsh voted in favor of increasing the corporate tax burden on multi-state corporations (Roll Call 08-212)
- Representative Rush voted in favor of increasing the corporate tax burden on multi-state corporations (Roll Call 08-405)
Repeal Sales Tax on Alcohol
The Commonwealth levied this tax unfairly on one particular industry. Alcohol sales already face an excise tax approaching 40%. Given our proximity to other states, this acted largely as a stimulus package for the rest of New England. With the weak economic environment Massachusetts is facing, we cannot afford to put any of our businesses at a competitive disadvantage.
- Senator Walsh is responsible for proposing the legislation that taxed the sale of alcohol; and then voted against the repeal of the alcohol tax
State Budget Reform
Eliminate Evacuation Day and Bunker Hill Day Holidays
No private sector employee receives these days as paid holidays, and neither should any municipal or state employee. We can realize a savings of $5m per year of taxpayer money by eliminating these unnecessary holidays.
- Representative Rush voted against eliminating Evacuation Day and Bunker Hill Day as government holidays (Roll Call 09-145)
Pacheco Law Reform
I will propose allowing competitive bidding for all contracts funded by taxpayer money, saving the taxpayers between $75m – $100m per year. Under the Pacheco Law, Massachusetts has virtually no ability to outsource state work for services that they can perform more efficiently than public agencies. As a result, we pay an extra 12% for public construction projects which does not result in any added benefit to the public.
- Representative Rush voted against allowing more competition in state service contracts (Roll Call 09-120)
The current pension system has been broken for decades. There is a clear mismatch between revenues and costs. For those nearing retirement, we must not change the rules mid-stream. For new employees, pension benefits should be based on lifetime earnings rather than the last three years of earnings. I will also propose and support establishing a defined contribution plan for state employees instead of a defined benefit plan to bring state retirement benefits in line with the private sector.
- Representative Rush voted against reforming the state pension calculation (Roll Call 09-074)
State welfare programs must be brought in line with federal standards. These changes will save the taxpayers between $50m to $75m a year.
Illegal Immigration & State Benefits
If elected I will immediately sponsor a bill supporting a new â€œPerry Amendmentâ€ to require proof of legal residency for state benefits. We can no longer subsidize illegal immigrants while legal immigrants and American citizens are struggling to make ends meet. These changes will save the taxpayers between $10m and $25m annually.
- Senator Walsh voted against the â€œPerry Amendmentâ€ (Roll Call 10-252)
Good Government Plan
Reinforce the Separation of Powers
We must reinforce separation of powers in government, and return the Probation Department to the control of the Judiciary. The Legislature should not control any aspect of the judicial branch, including the budget of the Probation Department. The House Ways and Means Committeeâ€™s overarching control over the department has led directly to corruption, wasted money, patronage and inefficiency. The Probation Department budget has grown eight times faster than any other public safety agency over the past 10 years.
Audit the State Legislature
Currently, the Legislature is exempt from a full financial review. I will propose legislation calling for annual audits by the State Auditorâ€™s Office, with full access to public records and officials. The taxpayers and voters deserve total transparency.
- Representative Rush voted against an independent, financial audit of the House (09-013)
Institute Real Ethics Reform
I will propose legislation requiring state representatives and senators to be subject to the same conflict of interest laws as other public employees. Any ethics violation will be grounds for immediate removal from office and forfeiture of a public pension. Acting as a public servant is a privilege and not an entitlement. If elected, I will refuse a public pension. I will also propose eliminating the per diem reimbursement for elected officials.
- Representative Rush voted against instituting stricter ethics regulations for public officials (Roll Calls 09-005, 09-006, 09-007, 09-009, 09-015, 09-016, 09-017, 09-018, 09-019, 09-022, & 09-042)
The steps that I have described here are only starting points for what we need to accomplish. While there is much work ahead of us, there is also much opportunity. The taxpayers and voters of Massachusetts deserve no less than the best our state government can give them.
Brad Williams is the Republican candidate for state senate in the Suffolk and Norfolk district. The Brad Williams Committee headquarters is located at 1864 Centre Street, Suite 4, West Roxbury, 02132. For more information on Brad Williams please go to www.bradwilliamsforsenate.com, www.facebook.com/Brad Williams for Senate and www.twitter.com/BradforSenate.