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MA Fiscal Alliance 2012 Questionnaire

by: scott_laugenour

Wed Aug 15, 2012 at 21:36:10 PM EDT


MA Fiscal Alliance sent me its 2012 candidate questionnaire.  My answers along with a signed and witnessed "Good Government Agreement" were submitted online on August 15, 2012.

Questions are in text blocks.

My answers are in italics.

My campaign responds to all questionnaires and publishes all answers sent.

scott_laugenour :: MA Fiscal Alliance 2012 Questionnaire
Candidate Questionnaire

Name:  Lee Scott Laugenour
Office Sought:  State Representative
District:  4th Berkshire
Party Affiliation:  Green-Rainbow
Campaign Committee Name:  Friends for Scott Laugenour
Address:  PO Box 612 / Lenox MA  01240
Phone:  413 551 9222
Twitter:  @scottlaugenour
E-mail:  hq@scottlaugenour.org
Web site:  http://www.scottlaugenour.org
Staff Contact:  Kalin Jordan, Manager
Staff e-mail:  hq@scottlaugenour.org
Are you currently a business owner:  NO
If not, have you ever been a business onwer:  YES
Business and political experience is outlined on my web site's ABOUT page.
Other endorsements:  United Auto Workers

Good Government Issues

1.  Do you support public meetings held behind closed doors in the State House?  Some legislative leaders meet behind closed doors in the State House to conduct official business.  Do you support this practice?  Please explain your answer in detail and include any legislative ideas you may have to either expand or limit these types of meetings.

No.  I do not support the practice of meeting behind closed doors.  A good start towards fixing this will be to apply the state's Open Meeting Law to Beacon Hill.  I also pledge to use modern communication tools to let voters know how I vote in committees and in voice votes.  I already do this for my town meeting votes.

2.  Do you support a cost reduction associated with information requests from the public?  Under state law, the public may request information from their state government.  Some departments in the state government will waive the cost of these information requests.  Others will charge a fee to the individual requesting the information to satisfy the request.   Please explain your answer in detail and include any legislative ideas you may have to either expand or limit the fees associated with information requests.

I support the principle and practice of making public information easily available to the public.  MA scores very poorly on that measurement currently.  Cost should not be a barrier to obtaining information, especially for documents and information that can be scanned and provided digitally.

3.  Do you support disclosing donor details such as "name, address, date of contribution and contribution amount" for "un-itemized contributions" with the Office of Campaign and Political Finance?  Some PAC's raise large sums of contributions through "un-itemized contributions."  Un-itemized contributions are used to report contributions less than $50 with the Office of Campaign and Political Finance.  Please explain your answer in detail and include any legislative ideas you may have to either expand or limit "un-itemized contributions."

Yes.  In fact the practice of my own campaign committee is to change the default in the software in order to itemize all contributions and expenses in any amount for my campaign finance filings.  These entries must be individually recorded into the OCPF software anyway.  There is no reason to allow un-itemized contributions, in my opinion.

4.  Will you debate your oppornent?  Some candidates run for public office, win, and refuse to debate their future opponents.  If you are facing a challenger this election, will you publicly debate your opponent?  If elected, will you pledge to publicly debate your future opponent(s) once elected?  Please explain your answer in detail.

Yes.  My publicly-stated policy is to accept good-faith debate invitations whenever all candidates who appear on the ballot have been invited to debate.

5.  Do you support legislation that would require Legislative Committee votes to be made public?  Please explain your answer in detail including efforts to make these votes public or remain the same.

Yes.  My answer to question #1 on this questionnaire addressed this.

6.  Do you support the Rule 28 Coalition, which would allow a simple majority in the Massachusetts House of Representatives to vote up or down on legislation?  Please explain your answer in detail including examples in which you opposed or supported this effort.

Yes.  I will join the Rule 28 Coalition when I'm elected and will wremain a member if it proves to be an effective coalition of opposition parties against the abuses and undemocratic practices of the central authority of the majority party.  Because of his record I pledge to vote against confirming Speaker DeLeo for another term as Speaker.  I would have requested support from the Rule 28 Coalition for bringing to the floor of the house a vote on the expanded bottle bill.

7.  Do you support mandatory background checks for employees placed with the Gaming Commission as supported by the Legislature?  Or do you support Governor Patrick's position that background checks should not be mandatory?  Please explain your answer in detail.

Yes

8.  Do you think the Legislature and the Governor's office need to become more transparent?  A national study for transparency in state government concluded that Massachusetts earned an "F" rating for "Public Access to Information."  The study can be found at stateintegrity.org.  Do you think the Legislature and the Governor's office need to become more transparent?  What legislative efforts would you support or sponsor to make Massachusetts more transparent in state government?

Yes.  I will be happy to work with 'good government' groups such as MA Fiscal Alliance and Common Cause to make state government more transparent.  Transparency is one of the planks of my campaign.

FISCAL ISSUES

9.  Do you support an increase of the minimum wage to $10 an hour?  Some advocacy groups are proposing Massachusetts adopt the highest minimum wage in the country to $10 an hour.  Do you support an increase of the minimum wage and would you support an increase to $10 an hour?  Please explain your answer in detail for why you support or oppose an increase to the minimum wage laws.

The minimum wage needs to be increased and revamped.  It may need to be higher than $10 an hour.

10.  Would you support or oppose adding a new sales tax for online purchases in Massachusetts.  Massachusetts does not have an online sales tax.  Please explain your answer in detail for why you support or oppose an online sales tax.

I am undecided on this issue.  I don't believe the legislature should vote on substantive new taxes without an independent 'fairness' assessment on a proposal that would indicate whether the new tax would have a progressive or a regressive effect.

11.  Do you support the current proposed Paid Sick Leave mandate?  Numerous progressive and economic and labor coalitions are pushing for a mandatory paid sick leave mandate for Massachusetts employers.  Do you support or oppose the current paid sick leave proposal?  Please explain your answer in detail.

No.  The practice in the US with benefits legislation such as sick time has been to mandate that businesses solely absorb the cost.  Not all workers benefit because small employers are usually exempted from the mandate.  I believe it is time to begin shifting such benefits into a public social security program, such as what is seen in successful social democracies around the world.   I would rather introduce legislation for a publicly administered sick day fund in Massachusetts.  Please read a blog that I wrote a couple years ago on paternity leave benefits.)

12.  Do you support reducing the sales tax to 5% and income tax to 5%?  Please explain your answer.

I would support a reduction of the sales tax to 5% in combination with recovering the revenue from more progressive taxation.  Instead of lowering the income tax rate to 5% I would increase the personal exemption so that lower income taxpayers paid a net rate of 5% or less.  Please see my web page on the subject of budgets and taxes.

13.  Do you support the expansion of public charter schools?  Public charter schools allow families and students the opportunity to select their education.  Please provide detailed answers and add any additional information you want to share about public charter schools.

I do not support the expansion of public charter schools that take funding from ordinary public schools.

14.  Do you support efforts to eliminate Pacheco's law?  Massachusetts is one of the few states in the country that virtually prohibit contracting out to the private sector any service currently provided by state employees.  Other state have saved millions by contracting some services to the private sector.  Please provide detailed answers for why you support Pacheco's law or would like to eliminate or reform it.

I do not support repealing Pacheco's law.  The law has not prevented the state from contracting some services to the private sector.  It ensures a full review to make sure that public funds are used for public investments.

15.  Do you support efforts to reduce or eliminate the estate tax?  Please explain in detail why you support or oppose a reduction in the estate tax.

No.  I agree with Warren Buffet on the desirability of the estate tax.  

16.  Do you support a tax on soda beverages, snack foods and the proposed bottle bill, which would impose a new 5 cent redemption tax on drink bottles?  Please explain in detail your position on taxes on popular consumption items like snack foods, beverages and drink bottles.

Yes

17.  Do you think more can be done through the legislative process to make Massachusetts more economically competitive with bordering states?  If you feel that our current economic conditions are adequate and do not need to be reformed to compete, please explain your answer in full.

Yes.  Our budgets should do a better job of supporting our jobs infrastructure, which include the health and education of people and communities.  Currently too many people and communitieis are insolvent because of health and education costs that are borne privately, which renders them less enterprising and upwardly mobile.  Massachusetts should support an infrastructure that fosters healthy, educated, and solvent people.

18.  Do you support the Legislature's proposed bail out for the MBTA system?  Please explain in detail ways you think we can solve the MBTA's financial situation.

I support the need for strong funding of public transit systems throughout the commonwealth.  Our economy is not producing jobs at the entry level where salaries are sufficient to comfortably carry the costs of private automobile ownership, maintenance, and operation.

19.  Do you believe the unemployment benefit process needs to be reformed?  Abuses in unemployment benefits are constantly in the news.  Do you believe the unemployment benefit process needs to be reformed and if so, what measures would you support or sponsor?  If you believe that the unemployment laws we currently have are acceptable, please state that.  Please explain in detail your position on the unemployment laws and if any reforms are needed.

I need to see real evidence of the level of abuse before taking a position on the need for reform.  News reports may trumpet exceptional sensational exceptions but might not reflect real patterns of abuse.

20.  Do you support cash assistance for the EBT program?

Yes

Do you think undocumented residents should be provided EBT benefits?

There may be some exceptional cases where it is allowed, but otherwise, no.

Do you support placing a picture ID on EBT cards?

No

Do you support prohibiting EBT cards to be used in jewelry stores and for manicures?

No

Do you think more needs to be done to reform the EBT card program?  If so, what legislative efforts do you support to reform the EBT program?

There should be mechanisms to increase the benefits in response to economic cycles.

Good Government Agreement

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