Going door to door is teaching me which issue questions are likely to come up. Here are some quick answers to the hot topics.
Support for same-sex marriage?
Pro-choice or pro-life?
Increase the statewide minimum wage?
Absolutely no new taxes in 2013-14?
No. Even though nobody likes taxes, as a fiscal realist, I want everything on the table -- spending cuts and raising revenue.
Absolutely no cuts in [insert favorite program here...]?
No, for the same reason. Everything has to be up for discussion.
What kind of taxes?
Flat, broad-based taxes. Get serious about reducing the extent of tax credits and other tax expenditures. And I'm waiting for people to realize that raising the gas tax is worth talking about too.
What kind of spending cuts?
Two kinds are worth considering. Broad-based belt-tightening reductions to push harder for operational efficiencies, and selected elimination of programs that no longer address urgent priorities nor provide core governmental services.
Bring back judicial discretion in sentencing habitual criminals?
Yes, I will support the Governor if he follows through on his plan to propose amendments to the recently passed bill.
Change the pension plan for state employees?
Yes. I prefer moving to a retirement savings plan for state employees in which the defined benefit piece is similar to Social Security and, in addition, the state funds a defined contribution piece. Sen. Brownsberger has a good proposal along these lines.
Ban leaf blowers in Arlington?
Let the newly created leaf-blower committee do its work. I am always optimistic that a dedicated group that trusts openness and dialog will find a reasonable solution. (As I had previously posted on this page, if I were a town meeting member, I would have voted against the original ban.)