WITH THE MINIMUM WAGE NOW RAISED, HERE’S WHAT’S NEXT FOR MASSACHUSETTS

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^ the Democrat with fewest weaknesses : Juliette Kayyem

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^ the best potential governor, on an across-the-board basis : Charlie Baker (with Nightline’s Dan Rea)

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Two days ago, the Massachusetts House passed a big rise in the minimum wage, to $ 10.50 in 2015 and $ 11.00 in 2016. The House legislation included, however, a provision that the Senate bill does not : a give back of five percent, on the unemployment compensation portion that employees pay. That portion will rise from 15 % to 20 %.

Because the two bills do not mesh, a conference wil be held at which the two bills will be reconciled. Almost certainly the reconciliation will adopt the House version: because Senate President Murray is leaving, whole Speaker DeLeo is very much staying.

Such is the way of things in the Massachusetts legislature. The big result, however, is that the base wage for every Massachusetts worker now earning minimum wage will rise by over $ 3.00 an hour. Minimum wage earners will no longer need as much public, taxpayer-paid assistance as before; taxpayers will get some relief; and workers will have some money to spend into the discretionary economy. In Boston, $ 10.50 to 4 11.00 an hour is still nowhere near enough; not with  rentals costing $ 1,600 and up; but in outlying cities such as Worcester, New Bedford, Holyoke, and Fitchburg, the new minimum wage will provide a real boost to many, many families and thus to the economy of those cities.

There were 24 votes against the Raise. Their message was the same : the higher wage would mean fewer jobs.

Businesses that have been able to short-change employees and pass them off to taxpayers will now not have that taxpayer subsidy. Will these businesses close ? To ask the question is to answer it. What then will they do ? Easy. They will change their business model.

These businesses will be operating in a very different economy, one that will grow quite quickly at first as the boost in wage checks gets spent into the economy. And this is good all around. But it is far from being enough. Massachusetts needs much more reform in how it operates ; some of it economic reform, a lot of it structural.

Here’s what we would like to see happen ;

1.economic : expand the earned income credit to childless families who qualify on an income basis.

2.economic : give Boston granting authority over its liquor licenses. A home rule petition, by Councillor Ayanna Pressley now sits in the legislature awaiting action.

3.economic : enable innovation districts in neighborhoods of Boston, and in outlying cities, on the model of those currently operating in Cambridge and Seaport Boston. Local aid funding can help here.

4.structural : reconfigure the website interface and interactivity of every State department, from health connector to DCF to Secretary of State and permitting. Publish the State Budget online. Embed a mobile phone app into the State’s most-used Department websites, such as the DCF, RMV, DOR, and Transitional assistance.

5.encourage and establish the full range of public school reforms now being put in place in Boston by Superintendent John McDonough

6.human rights : eliminate mandatory sentencing; establish a prisoners’ bill of rights that would provide for legal remedies — including assigning public defenders to each state or county lock-up — to prisoners who are abused by incarceration personnel; pay minimum wage to prisoners doing work they are required to do by the institution; assure re-entry procedures that are fair and helpful to the released prisoner; restore voting rights to convicts who have finished their sentences;.

7.civil rights: extend the state’s transgender rights law to include places of public accommodation. grant driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants and pass the Trust Act

8.gun control: require owners of guns (other than antique) to purchase liability insurance, as we now require owners of vehicles; require smart gun technology

9.transportation : review all transit and road budgets and cost-cut administration where feasible; repair and replace MBTA cars and buses, lines,a nd equipment; expand Green Line to West Medford; complete new stations on Fairmount Line; finish the South Coast rail Connector

10.DCF : hire sufficient case workers so that the state-mandated maximum case load is never breached; pay social workers a professional salary; require the DCF chief to circuit-ride from DCF office to office and to use mobile phone and ipad communication as a regular feature.

All of what we’d like to see is more than enough to challenge two governor terms, much less one. Some of this year’s Governor candidates want still more. That’s OK, for a wish list but not for the campaign, which we hope will be about now and the next four years, not times still over the horizon. After all, our list doesn’t even talk about climate change, alternative fuels, conservation, affordable housing, in-state tuition for undocumented immigrant kids, and local aid — any one of which could occupy an entire editorial.

— Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

WHO WILL BE THE NEXT MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR ?

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Front runner : the GOP’s Charlie Baker

The election won’t take place until November of NEXT year. Yet already the big political talk state-wide is, “who will be our next Governor ?” As Deval Patrick is not, after two terms, running for re-election, the question matters.

There is no obvious successor. Many fit the role, but none dominates it. For the Democrats, Attorney General Martha Coakley looks most formidable; but State Treasurer Steve Grossman — who announced his candidacy yesterday — rates as supportable as well, and so also, on his resume alone, does Donald S. Berwick, a medical doctor best known as President Obama’s administrator of Medicare and Medicaid services.

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leading Democrat : attorney General Martha Coakley

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also strong : State Treasurer Steve Grossman

You would suppose that the presence of three such star-quality candidates would preclude the availability of a fourth: but you would be wrong. A second Obama administration official, Juliette Kayyem, is said to be preparing her candidacy. Kayyem appeals to those who believe that intellectual rulers should rule. She worked in the sardonically named “Department of Homeland Security,” lectures at Harvard University and writes op-eds for the Boston Globe. Kayyem is an all-in supporter of the secret surveillance state. Sadly, this is what the Democratic Party, once the courageous tribune of the rights of ordinary people, has just about become in paranoid America, 2013.

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Governor Snoop ? Democrat Juliette Kayyem is thinking about it.

Of course Kayyem might not actually declare. We hope she does not. State government has already become an enemy to many of the basic rights of ordinary people : think the recent and ongoing attack upon people receiving EBT benefits. Ponder the opposition to the Governor’s “transpo” bill and its new taxes, money needed if the state is to maintain, even improve, public transit, by which many ordinary Massachusetts people get to work. The last thing that ordinary Massachusetts citizens need right now is a governor trained in secret snooping.

Of all the Democrats likely to run, Martha Coakley has the best record of advocating for ordinary people. Her long campaign against the mortgage banks and their predatory, deceptive, and downright self-seeking lending and foreclosure practices deserves the congratulations of us all. Yet even Coakley has a tainted past. What Coakley watcher can forget how ruthlessly and unforgivingly she, as Middlesex District attorney, pursued the Fells Acres, day care providing Amirault Family back in the 1980s and for two decades thereafter ?

Despite which, Coakley looks to be the Democrats’ top gun, and that perception is currently well deserved.

Which brings us to the Massachusetts Republican Party. Since the local GOP has provided four of our last five governors — Weld, Cellucci, Swift, Romney — you might expect the GOP nominee to be the favorite to win in 2014. We think so too. Quite unlike the national party’s decline in civic morality and policy intelligence, the Massachusetts GOP features a long bench of A-list candidates, most of them progressive on every civil rights issue and some of them progressive even on economic agendas. Do not be misled by the dullness — except for Dan Winslow — of the GOP’s recent US Senate campaign. For the governorship, our local GOP has plenty to cheer about.

First up is Charlie Baker, an master administrator who ran in 2010 and would probably have won, had his campaign handled more deftly the presence of a strong third candidate. Baker is almost sure to run again.

It is thought that if he does not, former Senator Scott Brown will run. Brown is low-key, personable and still very much liked. He knows Beacon Hill well, having served in the legislature for ten years. The last State Senator to be elected Governor in his own right, the late Paul Cellucci, was an effective leader indeed.

(NOTE : Jane Swift had been a State Senator prior to becoming Lieutenant Governor. She succeeded to the Governorship when Cellucci was appointed Ambassador to Canada.)

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will he run ? Former Senator Scott Brown

Mary Z. Connaughton, who ran for state Auditor in 2010 and lost by one percentage point, might run if neither Baker nor Brown does so. She is an excellent campaigner and would be a superb candidate if she moves away from her retrograde views on social and civil rights issues.

Also possible candidates are Dan Winslow, by far the sharpest — and most under-funded — of the recent US Senate hopefuls, and Rich Tisei, a committed progressive, 16-year State Senator who lost a 2012 race for Congress by only 1,000 votes.

Clearly the Massachusetts GOP offers our citizens what a major political party should : credible candidates who stand for progressive policies beneficial to the many, not just the few. At least one such GOP candidate will run; and given the strength of the Democrats’ Coakley and Grossman — Berwick too — it should be a very intense election, with state infrastructure and education spending the prime issue : issues about which the Massachusetts GOP — so unlike the GOP nationally — offers solutions well in keeping with our state’s regard for civil rights and for the needs of those on or near the economic bottom

Our Governor campaigns always are about solutions and, by election day, so intense. This one already is.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

UPDATE  as of 1:45 P.M. 07/11/13 : yesterday we learned that State Senator Dan Wolf, founder of Cape Air and representing of the Cape Cod and Islands District, has announced for the Democratic Party’s Governor nomination. More details as we get them.