Five Things Maura Healey Should Do As Governor

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Maura Healey will be the next governor of Massachusetts.

Don’t blame me. I voted for Geoff Diehl and Leah Cole Allen. But the voters spoke and we got Healey.

Here are five things Healey should do as governor. 


1.  Cut Taxes

Healey says she wants to cut taxes

If she does, that would be great. Healey has expressed interest in creating a $600 per child state-level child tax credit. Good idea. Letting people keep more of their money at a time when so many are struggling to get by in an expensive state is the right thing to do. It’s just a matter of whether she and the state legislature are actually interested in providing people with tax relief.

And even Charlie Baker’s proposed tax cuts aren’t bad. 

Here’s what that plan includes, according to

  • Double the maximum Senior Circuit Breaker Credit to lower the overall tax burden for more than 100,000 lower-income homeowners aged 65+

  • Increase the rental deduction cap from $3,000 to $5,000, allowing approximately 881,000 Massachusetts renters to keep approximately $77 million more annually

  • Double the dependent care credit to $480 for one qualifying individual and $960 for two or more, and double the household dependent care credit to $360 for one qualifying individual and $720 for two or more to benefit more than 700,000 families

  • Increase the Massachusetts adjusted gross income (AGI) thresholds for “no tax status” to $12,400 for single filers, $24,800 for joint filers, and $18,650 for head of households, which will eliminate the income tax for more than 234,000 low-income filers

  • Double the estate tax threshold and eliminate the current “cliff effect” that taxes the full amount below the threshold

  • Change the short-term capital gains tax rate to the personal income tax rate of 5% to align the Commonwealth with most other states

The state is awash with cash, and will likely get even more money if the Fair Share Amendment raising income taxes on million-dollar-plus incomes passes at the ballot box. There’s no reason for the state government to sit on wads of dough. It should give some money back to the people. 


2.  Respect Our Vote On Physician-Assisted Suicide

In 2012, Massachusetts voters had a chance to legalize physician-assisted suicide.

They didn’t. They rejected the measure 51 percent to 49 percent.

If Governor-elect Healey wants to respect the will of the people in fair and free elections, that includes honoring the results even when she disagrees with them.

Healey seems to be a reluctant physician-assisted suicide supporter — just like she’s not the biggest fan of marijuana or gambling.

“I’m certainly open to working with the medical community, patient advisory, and advocacy groups and partners in government to consider any changes to state law,” Healey told GBH News. “I just don’t think that … this is the kind of thing that any judge or court can sort of appropriately figure out the parameters of and what the policy needs to be.”

Here’s an idea:  don’t do it. Let’s not open this can of worms that will kill the sick, the poor, the elderly, and people with mental and physical disabilities before their time comes. 

Our society should try as hard as possible to prevent people from killing themselves; people get one chance to live on this earth. Suicide is a tragedy regardless of the method used. That includes a lethal injection from a physician.


3.  Open Up Government

Massachusetts is one of the least transparent states in the country.

It’s one of four states where the legislature has exempted itself from the state’s public records law. It’s also the only state in the country where the court system, the governor’s office, and the legislature all claim to be exempt from public records requests.

Plus, committee votes in the Massachusetts legislature are not public. Voice votes abound; state legislators often vote in favor of bills with no record of how they voted.

The question is:  what do these people have to hide?

These elected officials are supposed to serve the people — not the other way around. The people of the Commonwealth deserve to know what their elected officials are doing on their behalf.

The Washington Post‘s slogan says, “Democracy dies in darkness.”  Well, it’s pretty dark here in Massachusetts. Maura Healey can do something about it.


4.  Ban Revenge Porn

Massachusetts is one of just two states where revenge porn is still legal.

Some may argue that people shouldn’t take pornographic pictures of themselves and send them to other people. That certainly makes sense.

But this is a problem, nonetheless.  A momentary irresponsible and immoral private act becomes permanent on the Internet. We have an opportunity to restrict pornography, which promotes a culture of death by separating sexual intercourse from human reproduction.

It’s also, of course, bad for the victims — and you don’t have to be blameless to be a victim.

A 2014 study by the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative showed that 93 percent of revenge porn victims have suffered “significant” emotional distress and 41 percent have contemplated suicide. The study also found that 90 percent of the victims of revenge porn are women.

What it comes down to is:  there’s too much porn on the Internet already; dignity ought to be fostered wherever possible; and we don’t want young women and men killing themselves. 

Bipartisan support exists for getting this done. So Maura Healey should make it happen.


5.  Legalize Fireworks

Massachusetts is the only state where all fireworks are illegal.

This doesn’t stop people from lighting off fireworks in Massachusetts. It does, however, prevent Massachusetts from benefitting from the fireworks industry. When people can go a couple of hundred feet over the state line and get fireworks from a place called Fireworks Over The Border in Seabrook, the ban begins to make less sense.

Legalizing fireworks would allow Massachusetts to regulate fireworks. A bill could determine the time of day, time of year, which types of fireworks people can use, and how old they have to be to use fireworks. Plus, it would create jobs, businesses, and tax revenue. And fireworks injuries have decreased as states have liberalized fireworks laws.

There must be some sort of a middle ground between drunks lighting off bottle rockets at 3 a.m. in February and cops seizing sparklers from sober adults in July. Healey should try to find that balance. 



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