Vote Reich in the Primary
Plans for education, health care set former labor secretary apart from other Democrats
At the secondary school level, unlike competitor Shannon O’Brien, Reich rightly opposes using the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System exam as the sole determinant of whether a student receives a diploma. In addition to promoting decreased class sizes and the importance of attracting talented teachers, Reich has been outspoken about the need for statewide, full-day kindergarten—a welcome change from Acting Governor Jane Swift, who recently vetoed a $28 million state initiative to help local school districts pay for full-day kindergarten.
Of all the Democratic candidates, Reich has put the most emphasis on improving public post-secondary education in Massachusetts. After a year in which the University of Massachusetts system sustained an $11 million budget cut—reducing resources for UMass’ libraries, sports and its honors college—Reich’s oft-expressed commitment to quality higher education is more important than ever. His plans—to increase technical skill training, promote cooperative work programs and grant tuition breaks to students dedicated to public service professions like teaching and social services—are substantive, ambitious and forward thinking.
On health care, too, Reich’s progressive ideas stand out. He has stressed the importance of preserving Massachusetts’ state Medicaid benefits and improving access to affordable health insurance for the state’s neediest citizens. As important, Reich has outlined the money that could be saved both by using bulk prescription drug purchasing and by providing more effective community medical services to seniors in their homes. In the latter case, an estimated $41 million is at stake, according to the Massachusetts Home Care Coalition—in addition to improving the quality of life for seniors who do not need to be institutionalized.
On many other essential issues, Reich is ahead of the pack. While all the Democrats endorse civil unions for homosexual couples, he is the only one to take a courageous stand in favor of same-sex marriage. He has committed himself to slash $18 million from the hideously bloated Massachusetts court system—the cuts consisting mostly of patronage jobs created at the behest of the state legislature, jobs that Reich rightly says “the court system never asked for.” And during his years as labor secretary, Reich repeatedly demonstrated his dedication to improving the lives of the working poor.
Reich clearly has the experience to handle the job. He is a seasoned administrator who presided over a cabinet department with over 16,000 full-time employees and an annual budget greater than that of Massachusetts’. Yet Reich is not a Beacon Hill insider; he is not tainted by the state legislature’s endless, autocratic budget process.
Throughout this primary campaign, Reich has demonstrated his passionate, principled commitment to the under-privileged. As he told the American Student Assistance Conference on Jan. 27, “A society concerned about widening inequality—and its corrosive effects on democracy, social solidarity and the moral authority of a state or nation—would logically turn its attention to increasing the supply of people capable of doing the work that the new economy rewards.” His visionary plans to revitalize education in Massachusetts, coupled with his intelligent proposals on health care and many other issues—not to mention his frequent visits to Harvard, speaking to students as he is today at 1 p.m.—make Robert Reich our choice to be the Democratic candidate for governor.