The Platform of the Massachusetts Democratic Party
“What people want is very simple. They want an America that is as good as its
-- Barbara Jordan
WE the Democrats of Massachusetts, in order to best assure our state success in
this new century, hereby pledge to work for and support an agenda that creates
opportunity, recognizes responsibility, and builds community.
WE embrace the Democratic traditions of our forebears, reaffirming our commitments
to the tenets of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
WE recognize that a life which “insures domestic Tranquility” must provide
good jobs, a good education, and quality health care.
WE recognize that to “secure the blessings of Liberty” we must honor families,
invest in our communities, and safeguard the political rights of all our citizens.
WE recognize that to “promote the general Welfare” we must honor families,
invest in our communities, and safeguard the political rights of all our citizens.
We believe in democratic government and in the power of good governance.
As we begin this new century, we acknowledge the wisdom of our Founders,
who crafted a Democracy that endures. Looking ahead, we dedicate ourselves to
the proposition that the ideals of our past must become a workable force for the
future. Cognizant of the challenges of our diversity, we guarantee a place at the
table for every citizen and reaffirm our dedication to an all-inclusive Democratic
Party. From Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal, through John F. Kennedy’s
New Frontier, and Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society, the Democratic Party has
always stood strong in support of pro-active solutions. We respect the individual
positions members of our Party may take, and welcome all people to participate at
every level of our Party. Steadfast in our resolve, we pledge ourselves to making
this great experiment called democracy viable for generations to come.
To that end, on behalf of the Massachusetts Democratic Party, we hereby adopt
the following platform:
PART I: FAMILIES & CHILDREN, DIVERSITY & COMMUNITY
Families and Individuals.We seek to strengthen the families and individuals of
the Commonwealth in all their diversity. To this end, we support policies that
ensure equality of opportunity, enrich our children, foster economic security, and
promote vibrant communities.
Inclusion, Diversity and Affirmative Action.We celebrate the diversity of our
Commonwealth and country, and we oppose discrimination in any form it takes.
We are proud to stand as the Party of, and the Party for, all people, without regard
to race, gender, religion, language, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation,
economic circumstance or other characteristics. We have been, and will be, the
Party that is the defender of individual rights, while remaining the strong champion
for the common good. We restate our support for Affirmative Action, to ensure
equal opportunity for all citizens.
No Child Left Behind. We believe that young people are our most precious
resource, and we see inherent worth and promise in every child. Ours is truly the
Party that seeks to “Leave No Child Behind.”We endorse, therefore, the goals
established under The Children’s Defense Fund initiative of that name, to ensure
every child a healthy start, a head start, a fair start, a safe start, and a moral start. To
realize these objectives, we propose new commitments to reducing class sizes,
making early childhood education universal, and expanding after-school opportunities.
We reaffirm our support for Healthy Start, Head Start funded to enroll every
eligible child, and WIC. We call for increased professionalism and accountability in
our foster care system, improved adoption procedures, and vigorous enforcement of
child support. We support a range of options for preventing teen pregnancy, including
comprehensive health and sex education, school-based clinics, abstinence, peer
counseling, and career services.
Family & Medical Leave and Help for Parents and Children. We believe
that mothers and fathers deserve the full backing of our society, including in the
workplace. We support the existing federal Family & Medical Leave Act, but recognize
it does not go far enough in meeting the needs of all working families
because many cannot afford to take unpaid time off or work for employers not covered
by its mandate. Paid family and medical leave would ensure that workers are
not forced to choose between work and their own health needs or the care and wellbeing
of their families and children. We support full-day kindergarten and afterschool
programs that aid children and young people while helping parents better
balance sometimes conflicting responsibilities to family and work.
Gender Equality.We reaffirm our support for The Equal Rights Amendment to
the constitution of the Commonwealth on the 25th anniversary of its ratification,
and the principle enshrined within it. We support legislation to end unjust gender
discrimination in insurance terms and rates. We advocate policies to end genderbased
discrimination and disparities in the workplace, and to improve pension security
for women. We call for equal emphasis on women’s health concerns in health
research and safety testing, and for insurance coverage of contraception.
Older Americans.We believe that commitments to the financial security and
physical well-being of older Americans are core values of our Party, and we oppose
all proposals that would undermine or dismantle Medicare and Social Security. We
strongly support the range of programs funded through The Older Americans Act,
as well as other federal and state efforts, to help elders maintain lives of dignity and
independence, and to remain in their own homes and communities if they wish.
We recognize and seek to alleviate the crisis in home health care services that jeopardizes
the safety and well-being of tens of thousands of seniors, persons with disabilities,
and others in the Commonwealth. We recognize that seniors are too often
the targets of telemarketing fraud, and we urge the passage of legislation establishing
tough standards for telemarketers and stiff penalties for violations.
Persons with Disabilities. We reaffirm our support for The Americans with
Disabilities Act and other laws to prevent discrimination on the basis of disability,
and for efforts to bring the Commonwealth into full ADA compliance. We believe
state assistance should be made more readily available for community-based care,
and should not be inappropriately biased toward institutional settings. We seek to
remedy the shortage of housing that is both affordable and accessible to disabled
Americans. We endorse efforts to improve access to basic services like transportation,
and to fundamental rights like the ballot box, through more accessible voting
equipment and other means. We believe that personal assets spend-down provisions
of CommonHealth with respect to nursing home care for the disabled and elderly
should be made less onerous.
Domestic Partnership.We support equal treatment of domestic partners in
health insurance, pension access, and inheritance, and we support the provision of
domestic partnership benefits in the private and public sectors, including for both
state and federal employees. We oppose actions that would define marriage solely
as a relationship between a man and a woman, and that would ban the recognition
of any other relationship as marriage or its legal equivalent. We oppose efforts that
would ban the provision of any benefits to gay and lesbian families that are now
granted exclusively to married couples under Massachusetts law.
Immigration.We reaffirm our support for the social and economic integration
of immigrants, and we support a legalization process that is pro-family, pro-work,
pro-responsibility, and pro-citizenship as an essential element of America’s continued
vitality. We reaffirm our support for legal immigrants and their right to public
benefits, and we adamantly reject political modes of expression that make scapegoats
of immigrants. We support programs expediting the acquisition of English
language skills. We oppose attempts to impose English-only standards in public
Veterans.We thank the men and women of the Commonwealth who have
served our nation in peace and in war, and remember those who have given their
lives as members of the United States Armed Forces. We reaffirm our commitment
to ensuring veterans’ access to quality medical care through the facilities and programs
of the Veteran’s Administration. We support additional coverage for the treatment
of veterans’ illnesses such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Gulf War
Syndrome and other diseases resulting from agents of war, including specifically
through exposure to Agent Orange.
Youth and Civic Involvement.We believe in the energy and idealism of young
people as a force for social change and justice in the world around us. We strongly
support initiatives to connect young people to the community at large and curricula
that seek to instill in students the civic values that underpin our diverse democracy.
We encourage volunteerism among high school and college students. We restate our
backing for programs like AmeriCorps that offer young people a way to come
together to serve the needs of their communities.
Responsibility to Community. We recognize the ongoing value and importance
of volunteerism and service to our communities, our Commonwealth, and our
nation. We assert the responsibility of each of us to support and participate in volunteer
organizations, community service programs, and initiatives designed to promote
community improvement. We acknowledge and commend the work of grassroots
citizen groups who have been responsible for so many advances in so many
just and important causes of concern to our Party.
PART II: EDUCATION, TRAINING, AND OPPORTUNITY
Education Reform and Innovation.We believe public education is the cornerstone
of our economy, democracy, and society, and that every child and young person
in the Commonwealth deserves access to high quality adequate education as
constitutionally mandated by the Supreme Judicial Court’s landmark McDuffy
decision. We strongly support the Commonwealth’s ongoing effort to improve public
education at all levels and applaud innovations in public education that complement
the improvements already underway through The Education Reform Act of
1993. We believe all reforms should be evaluated in order to strengthen those that
are working well and revise or eliminate those that prove ineffective.
Full Funding.We believe education must be a top priority at all levels of government,
and we reject policies that direct funds away from the children and the
programs in our public schools to finance political promises of tax reductions or to
other unrelated purposes. We support just and equitable funding mechanisms that
provide for vibrant public schools in all communities, and we oppose efforts in
Washington to downgrade federal support, financial or otherwise, for educational
excellence. We strongly oppose any effort to change the state constitution’s current
prohibition against the provision of taxpayer dollars to private or religious schools,
and we oppose school vouchers proposals, whether state or federal, which direct
public funds away from public schools and toward private or religious schools. We
call upon the state to change funding of Commonwealth Charter schools to ensure
that funds are not drained from established public schools. We support efforts to
ensure adequate resources to help students achieve high standards set by the state.
Strong Standards. We support challenging academic standards in core subjects
for all students. We believe that school systems, teachers, and administrators also
must be held to strong standards of accountability. We recognize the responsibility
of our state and local communities to provide the support and assistance needed for
students and schools to achieve these objectives. We support curriculum standards
and fair student evaluation mechanisms, including but not limited to periodic testing.
We oppose use of the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System
(MCAS) test as a solely decisive determinant of graduation from high school.
Quality Teaching in Smaller Classes.We believe that smaller class sizes mean
better schools, and we strongly support state and federal proposals to hire the additional
teachers required. We support incentives to attract, hire, and retain motivated,
competent teachers. We endorse alternative certification for those pursuing
teaching as a career change, as long as there is adequate teacher preparation to
ensure quality teachers, and we support scholarships and loan forgiveness to attract
teachers to urban and rural areas, and expanded opportunities in training and professional
Excellence, Equality and Community.We have high hopes and expectations
for all students, and we believe that educational opportunity must be made available
without regard to race, gender, economic status, or disability. We reaffirm our support
for classroom programs, including Special and Bilingual Education, that can
help children reach their fullest potential, and for state and federal laws barring discrimination
in our classrooms. We believe it is vital for all of our students to be
able to compete in the global world and encourage greater use of Global Education
curricula and the teaching of foreign languages in elementary schools as well as in
the upper grades.
Universal Early Childhood Education.We believe early childhood education
is vital to subsequent success as a student. We strongly support the implementation
and full funding of universal early childhood education with developmentally appropriate
programs for all children under age 6 in the Commonwealth. We pledge
to seek additional resources to provide quality child care for working parents. We
recognize the need for upgraded wages to attract and keep sufficient qualified staff,
and the importance of state and federal funds specifically earmarked to hire and
retain experienced child care teachers. We support the extension of HeadStart to all
eligible children, especially those at risk, and full-day kindergarten throughout all
public schools of the Commonwealth.
After-School and Other Out-of-School Opportunities. We believe that to
better promote academic success, combat crime and substance abuse among
teenagers, and aid working families, Massachusetts must develop a strong network
of after-school and summer enrichment and learning opportunities to be available to
all children. We propose to do so in part by leveraging the public’s considerable
investment in school buildings by turning them, wherever possible, into true community
centers serving all ages throughout the day and the year.
Parental Involvement. We know that parental involvement is an important
determinant of children’s success. We must give parents the opportunities to exercise
their responsibility as parents, including through parenting classes for new parents,
flex-time, paid leave and time off to participate in parent-teacher conferences.
Education Technology.We recognize that technologies like the Internet are
reshaping the worlds of work and education and the pursuit of knowledge in our
society, and we believe the state must act to bridge an emerging “Digital Divide”
that threatens to leave individual students and whole communities behind. The state
must continue to make resources for educational technology, including hardware,
wiring, software and staff training a leading priority within its infrastructure investment
Putting Education to Work. We believe that initiatives like School-to-Work
and effective vocational curricula that help students acquire the skills needed for
high wage jobs are of vital importance in today’s sophisticated economy. We support
cooperation among educators, employers, and labor to ensure the creation and
preservation of good jobs in the Commonwealth, and the next generation of wellqualified
workers to fill them.
Safe Schools.We believe in strong discipline standards in our schools and support
rigorous, fair and consistent discipline policies to ensure a safe, secure school
environment. We support alternative education programs for students who disrupt
the education environment for other students. We abhor acts of violence in schools,
whether directed against peers, teachers, staff, or administrators. We endorse measures
that promote safety, including violence prevention and early intervention
efforts, strict enforcement of drug free school zone laws, and peer mediation.
Modernized Schools.We support increased state and federal funding to build
and modernize the Commonwealth’s crumbling schools because we recognize that
far too many of our students attend schools that have leaking roofs, poor air quality,
and insufficient space to provide quality education. As we expand early childhood
and full-day kindergarten programs, we must build additional classrooms.
Student Loans and Higher Education. We believe in making higher education
accessible to all students, through national programs like Pell Grants and Stafford
loans, and through additional state-sponsored grants, loans and scholarships. We
commend our elected officials in state and federal office for past work in combating
proposed cuts to these programs, and pledge our opposition to future such efforts.
We believe that public investments in the operation and infrastructure of our system
of state colleges, universities and other post-secondary institutions yield economic
dividends that far exceed costs. We support a “Fair Share” approach which distributes
the cost of attending these institutions equitably among the state, students, and
their families, and which is based on ability to pay.
Adult Education. We believe that no adult should be turned away from learning
English as a Second Language or obtaining their GED due to lack of space. We
recognize that the current long waiting lists at adult education programs make it
difficult for adult learners to improve their literacy skills. We urge employers,
unions, and the state to work together in addressing this problem through increased
state funds for ESOL, ABE, and GED, and by offering workplace literacy programs
on-site at companies and at union halls.
PART III: HEALTH CARE, ACCESS & CHOICE
Health Care. We believe health care is a right, not a privilege; a necessity, not a
We pledge ourselves to attaining universal health care coverage for all families
and individuals, and to an initiative which ends racial and ethnic health disparities
in the Commonwealth not later than the year 2010. To these ends, we favor both
fundamental and ongoing reforms that promote access, control costs, and improve
quality. Our Party supports the creation of a single-payer health care system both in
Massachusetts and in the nation in order to achieve the goal of universal health
care. We understand that other methods are less satisfactory to us, but we remain
committed to ensuring that every man, woman, and child in our state should have
access to high quality health care. We thank our Congressional delegation for their
extraordinary leadership in Washington with respect to all health care issues, and
commend The Legislature for making our state a model of improved coverage for
children and reduced use of tobacco.
Access and Costs. We are proud that policies endorsed in past Party platforms
and adopted in recent years by the Commonwealth have helped place our state near
the top with respect to share of children and adults covered by health insurance. We
remain committed to extending proper coverage to each of the hundreds of thousands
of residents still uninsured, and to aiding the even greater number who are
underinsured, or at risk of being so. We endorse the HealthNow! proposal that
would build on the success of The Children’s Coverage Initiative by providing
health coverage to tens of thousands of uninsured working adults. We strongly back
efforts in Congress and The Legislature to make prescription drugs more affordable,
including as a benefit of Medicare. We recognize that comprehensive health
care reform is the only way to ensure that health care for all at an affordable price
can truly become a reality.
HMOs and Quality of Care.We seek to restore balance between individuals
and their managed care health plans, so members can obtain the care they need and
doctors are most able to act in the best interests of their patients. We strongly support
the state’s Patients’ Bill of Rights Act of 2000, which guarantees important
new protections to residents in state-regulated HMO health plans, like a right to
appeal denials of care. We call for vigorous enforcement of all its provisions, and
support parallel national efforts. We endorse state and federal proposals giving
patients the right to sue their HMO. We support measures to protect the privacy and
confidentiality of patient records, and state involvement in the ongoing effort to
eliminate medical errors.
Health Care Economy and Fiscal Stability. We believe that our state’s worldclass
medical care and world renowned teaching hospitals and universities together
with leading edge biotechnology and medical device industries are critical to our
economy as well as the health of our citizens. We are cognizant of the extreme
threat that exists at this time. We are deeply concerned about the severe financial
difficulties facing our teaching and community hospitals, community health centers,
not-for-profit health plans, extended and home care providers, and other healthrelated
organizations and professionals. Equally, we are alarmed by the harmful
consequences of measures such as reduced staffing levels, uneconomic rates of
compensation, and higher premiums that have been taken in response to those difficulties.
We very strongly support efforts to reverse misguided reductions under the
federal Balanced Budget Act of 1997 which have underfunded graduate medical
education and reimbursements to these facilities. We endorse the common-sense
principle that provider payments from the state and others must cover costs, and we
support increased reimbursements through Medicaid and Medicare.
Mental Health.We strongly endorse the state’s Mental Health Parity Law
adopted in 2000, and know of the extreme difficulty many residents experience in
obtaining adequate, or even any, treatment of mental health conditions. We believe
the state must establish a coordinated program with human service agencies to
address the explosive growth in the mental health needs of children and adolescents.
We believe the amount of mental health benefits generally available to residents
of the Commonwealth is insufficient to meet need. We condemn the neglectful
policies of the Republican Administrations of the past decade which have resulted
in the inability of families to obtain desperately-needed psychiatric care for
loved ones. Our Party supports the full implementation of mental health policies
which will provide emergence care, family support, and appropriate housing to our
citizens with chronic mental health disorders.
Research.We believe medical research, innovation, and education are key
strengths of the Commonwealth. We support expanded National Institutes of Health
(NIH) funding, a strong federal commitment to the life sciences, state-backed
research institutions and incubators, and a climate that fosters private sector innovations.
We believe new treatments can produce improved quality of life and substantial
cost savings by reducing disease and disability in older Americans. We support
the development and coverage of innovative therapies and medications to assuage
pain and improve the quality of life of those suffering from terminal or debilitating
illnesses. We understand that breakthrough treatments, however exciting, become
meaningful only when made accessible to those in need of them.
Not-for-profit Care and Essential Services. We seek to protect the
Commonwealth’s heritage of not-for-profit medicine and its inherent commitment
to the public interest. We seek vigorous enforcement of new requirements subjecting
proposed takeovers of not-for-profit hospitals and health plans by for-profit corporations
to close public scrutiny. We believe the state must increase its health planning
efforts in all areas, and we support its right to identify services and providers
that are essential to communities and act to preserve them.
Choice and Reproductive Health Care.We reaffirm our belief that a woman
has the right to choose whether and when to have a child. We support the 1973
Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision as the law of the land and oppose any constitutional
amendment, law or regulation to restrict or overturn that decision. We are
alarmed by, and opposed to, the anti-choice policies of the Bush Administration.
We condemn acts of violence and intimidation which inhibit the rights of women
seeking services. No woman who has chosen to terminate her pregnancy should be
the victim of physical, verbal, or emotional intimidation under any circumstances.
We view the protection and privacy of women seeking abortions as a fundamental
right. We pledge to work for comprehensive, accessible, and non-coercive reproductive
health care policies and services, with a special focus on the needs of lowincome,
rural and young women and families of the Commonwealth. This includes
programs to improve the health and safety of pregnancy and childbirth, adequate
prenatal and pediatric care, affordable adoption programs, family planning counseling,
and accessible contraceptive services, drugs, and devices. We believe that contraceptive
drugs and devices should be a covered benefit of health insurance plans.
Tobacco.We support policies to discourage smoking, especially among youth,
and to hold the tobacco industry accountable for their actions against public health.
We support increased federal and state excise taxes on tobacco products and believe
that these revenues and national settlement monies are used most appropriately in
support of anti-smoking and health care related efforts. We renew our call for disclosure
requirements for tobacco ingredients, similar to standards for other consumer
products. We support legislation to regulate smoking in the workplace and
all public settings.
PART IV: ECONOMIC GROWTH, JOBS & SECURITY
Expanding Opportunity. We support initiatives that promote healthy growth,
stimulate opportunity, heighten our competitiveness in the global marketplace, and
aid in the continuing transition to a knowledge-based economy. We know that our
Commonwealth depends on the energy and skill of our private sector to create jobs
and prosperity, and that government has an important role in expanding opportunity,
assuring necessary infrastructure, and helping dislocated workers manage
through transition. We advocate vigorous efforts, including through establishment
of a Jobs Creation Commission, to promote increased employment at high wages
and with good benefits.
Workforce Training. We support initiatives that invest in the skills of the working
men and women of the Commonwealth. We are aware that one out of three
workers in this state need additional skills to maintain their employment in today’s
changing economy. We recognize the challenges faced by employers trying to
recruit a skilled workforce; and faced by workers applying for living wage jobs
who lack requisite skills. In the face of a global economy and advanced technology,
workers need ongoing skill development and job training.
We support increased public and private funding for business and labor to
address the Massachusetts skills gap.
A Healthy Business Environment. We support monitoring the costs of doing
business in the Commonwealth, so that companies can grow and compete while still
meeting their obligations to workers and the community. We endorse reasonable,
flexible, user-friendly regulations and recognize the role incentives play in creating,
attracting, and keeping jobs. To remain competitive and help in areas of high unemployment,
the state must be prepared to offer incentives for companies to retain and
add good paying jobs. We support tax incentives for business when accompanied by
commitments to good corporate citizenship and enforceable terms assuring continued
investment in Massachusetts.
Supporting Small Businesses.We recognize small businesses as vital to economic
growth and prosperity in the Commonwealth, both through job creation and
the opportunities of ownership. We favor policies that support the growth and health
of small businesses, and which are responsive to their unique needs and concerns.
We recognize that regulations and other important elements of public policy must
be sensitive to the differences between large and small companies. We recognize the
importance of continued strong federal funding for the U.S. Small Business
Administration. We support public efforts to ensure full and fair participation by
women and people of color in the workforce and in business ownership.
Competitive Advantage and a Global Economy.We believe the extraordinary
depth and breadth of the knowledge-based sector of the Massachusetts economy is
a key competitive edge in the global market. We champion strong federal research
& development funding programs, and assistance to smaller companies and startups
seeking to commercialize promising technology. We encourage open global
trade that promotes fair employment and sound environmental standards by our
trading partners. We support state and federal efforts to promote Massachusetts
Growing Tourism. We recognize that tourism is among our largest exports and
we acknowledge the vital importance of tourism and business convention travel to
communities and regions across the Commonwealth. Cognizant of the stiff competition
we face from other states and countries, we advocate more aggressive efforts to
promote the Commonwealth as a tourism destination to both domestic and international
visitors. We support construction of a world-class convention center that will
accommodate the lucrative and important larger meetings which now bypass Boston
because of our inability to meet their needs. We must also safeguard the rich and
diverse physical and cultural heritage of the Commonwealth, which enhances our
state’s ability to attract tourism.
Transportation. We support a well-planned commitment of state resources to
ensure that our transportation infrastructure remains accessible, affordable, safe and
reliable for all residents, whether living and working in urban, suburban or rural
regions. We restate our pledge to keep public transportation public. We call for state
and federal funding and transportation management policies that ensure full and
timely completion of the Central Artery project, while allowing for needed repairs,
reconstruction and maintenance of roads, bridges, and other public works elsewhere
in the Commonwealth. We promote the development and use of public transportation
and commuter and intercity rail systems as a convenient, efficient, and environmentally
sound means of moving people and cargo. We oppose the Cellucci/Swift
Logan Runway Expansion Proposal. We support creative and courageous leadership
that understands the importance of alternatives such as the expanded use of regional
airports, demand and gate management techniques to reduce over scheduling, and
the development of a community-oriented multi-model transportation network.
Farming, Fishing and Aquaculture. We recognize the importance of agriculture
to our Commonwealth, as a source of top quality fresh foods for our residents,
an engine of economic prosperity, and a preserver of land and open spaces. We
encourage diversification, value-added processing, organic farming, and applied
research partnerships among our universities, farmers, and farm businesses. We
renew our pledge to fight for our fishing industry, to support its efforts to market
and export valuable and alternative species, and to protect it from international overfishing.
We recognize the importance of aquaculture in our Commonwealth. We call
for aggressive and creative approaches to ensure maximum possible markets for the
fish and farm commodities of the Commonwealth.
Supporting the Transition from Welfare to Work.We seek to help welfare
recipients successfully find and keep jobs. We advocate increased job training and
educational opportunities, and we must ensure that support systems in child care,
transportation, and health insurance are in place to enable people to work and to
advance into more highly paid jobs. We are committed to ensuring a safety net to
members of our families in times of need. We recognize that for some, that transition
may take a lifetime. We support measures that reduce, not increase, the number
of children living in poverty.
Privatization Accountability. We support the modernization of public systems
and recognize that the private sector can offer some solutions. We assert and recognize,
however, that it is the public sector, not the private sector, which has the distinct
capacity to deliver efficient, high quality services in many areas. We oppose
misguided privatization schemes that place quality and continuity of service at risk
and impose hidden costs in the form of reduced wages and benefits as well as an
increased opportunity for corruption in the form of waste and fraud. We recognize
that serving the public interest involves maximizing efficiency and productivity
without sacrificing the quality of services delivered to our citizens.
PART V: FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY, TAX EQUITY,
& PUBLIC STEWARDSHIP
Tax Fairness and Responsible Budgeting.We believe that taxes should be fair
and based on ability to pay, and that budgets should be fiscally responsible and balanced
without gimmicks. We note with pride the success of our Party in achieving
these aims both here and in Washington. We oppose budgets that raid trust funds or
rely on unrealistic economic and revenue forecasts in order to create the appearance
of a balanced budget or to finance tax breaks.
Investments and Tax Relief. We believe that where state or federal budget surpluses
occur, they reflect the productivity and hard work of all residents and citizens.
We believe surpluses should go to public priorities like needed investments in
education and health care, the strengthening of Social Security and Medicare, the
reduction of public debt, and the provision of tax relief targeted first to working
families, such the Earned Income Tax Credit. We reject emphatically state or federal
tax policies that redirect hard-won budget surpluses or other public revenues into
the hands of a few, or which create windfalls for the wealthy while offering little or
nothing to working families. We call for tax relief that helps individuals and working
families better afford higher education and save for retirement.
Consumer Protection.We support the protection of consumers and their interests
in all areas of the marketplace. We call for genuine consumer-oriented automobile
insurance reform and rate relief, including close regulatory scrutiny of industry
rate proposals and a “Consumer Choice” system that would empower car owners
with a choice of coverage options to best fit their needs. We endorse the monitoring
of the deregulation of utilities to ensure fair treatment for all, and call for stronger
efforts to ensure that all eligible rate-payers obtain the special rates available to lowincome
PART VI: SAFETY, JUSTICE & CRIME PREVENTION
Safety.We believe the people of the Commonwealth have a right to safety in
their homes, on the streets, and in our schools and workplaces. We endorse a strategy
that focuses on reducing the number and severity of criminal offenses while creating
and strengthening crime-resistant communities. We support arrest, conviction,
and punishment for the perpetrators of crime, and stand fast for the victims of crime
so that they do not, in turn, become victims of the system. In order to correct the
unconscionable delays that have compromised many criminal investigations in the
Commonwealth, we strongly support enhanced funding of the State Crime
Laboratory and the Office of the Medical Examiner. We favor legislation to extend
the statute of limitations for a criminal or civil action relating to rape to one year
from the date on which the identity of a suspect is established by DNA testing. We
strongly oppose the use of discriminatory racial profiling practices in law enforcement.
Crime Prevention. We believe the best possible anti-crime strategy is early
intervention and prevention. We seek to build on the proven success that preventionbased
approaches such as community policing and outreach to troubled young people
have had in dramatically reducing crime, including violent crime and homicide,
in the Commonwealth and across the country. We support increased efforts to work
with troubled young people and we support the development of secure substance
abuse treatment facilities for adolescents and women. We call for increased efforts
to provide parental training to young parents. We support heightened efforts to provide
teens with summer jobs, expanded employment opportunities, and safe community
Guns and Assault Weapons.We believe that strong state and federal gun laws
help keep firearms out of the hands of criminals and children, and reduce violence
in communities, homes, workplaces, and schools. We strongly oppose efforts to
repeal or roll back vital protections like the Brady Bill, and the Assault Weapons
Ban, and background checks for gun buyers. We support measures to close existing
loopholes in the state ban on the sale of assault weapons, requiring safety devices
on guns, and the establishment of a ballistic fingerprinting data bank. We endorse
increased efforts to track and prosecute illegal gun distributors.
The Death Penalty.We restate our Party’s continued opposition to the death
penalty, and its support for the alternative, life in prison, without parole.
Sentencing. We support sentences that are tough and fair, consistent and proportionate.
We support sentencing guidelines as one way of ensuring fairness and uniformity,
as well as providing the most efficient use of state resources in the fight
against crime. We believe in consistent, long-term sentences for serious and violent
criminals, and the option of alternative sanctions for nonviolent criminals. We favor
expanded use of drug courts. We are deeply concerned by evidence of striking
racial disparities in certain sentencing patterns among persons convicted of similar
or identical offenses.
Family Violence.We support measures to stop family violence, including
putting full-time, trained advocates in court rooms to assist victims of domestic violence
in obtaining protective orders, developing personal safety plans, and securing
other available services. We support programs for children who witness violence,
and measures to protect children from domestic violence in custody proceedings.
We urge a greater focus on batterers who demonstrate a high probability of repeating
or escalating their violence. We support expansion of programs that provide
adequate shelters for victims of domestic violence.
Victims’ Rights. We support the changes that have made our criminal justice
system more attuned to the concerns of crime victims and their families, and urge
continued work to increase this responsiveness. We support greater use of restitution
and other means of restorative justice. We recognize the need for expanded counseling
services for all those who may feel the impact of a crime, such as the family
members of convicted batterers.
Probation Reform. We call for probation to be integrated into a unified
approach to law enforcement and corrections. We support policies that allow for
swift and consistent punishment of probation violations and call for and community
corrections programs We support increased use of tools such as substance abuse
testing, electronic position monitoring, and day reporting requirements to tighten
our control over the behavior of probationers.
Juvenile Justice.We must continue to deal swiftly and firmly with violent juvenile
offenders, holding violent juveniles accountable, while providing immediate
intervention for lesser offenders. We support the community-based juvenile corrections
system that has become a national model, providing a broad range of alternatives
with respect to young people who have broken the law.
Incarceration.We support efforts to ensure adequate prison space to house convicted
violent offenders. We view prison overcrowding as a threat to the safety and
welfare of the public, correctional officers, and inmates. We believe that it is a
responsibility of government to incarcerate persons convicted of serious crimes. We
oppose housing Massachusetts inmates in out-of-state facilities, and we oppose the
privatization of correctional facilities. We call for more appropriate and secure facilities
for female prisoners
Rehabilitation. We support increased literacy education and similar skills training
to better direct inmates into new lives as productive and contributing members
of society following their release. We support drug and alcohol treatment, increased
mentoring opportunities, post-release supervision, and AfterCare initiatives for
inmates and persons on probation as a common sense approach to reducing repeat
offenses and recidivism.
Legal Services. We support publicly funded legal services to provide legal representation
and advice on issues such as housing, employment, domestic violence,
health, elder law, public benefits, and immigration. We urge full state and federal
funding of such services. We support efforts to encourage members of the bar to
provide pro bono legal services.
Hate Crimes.We reaffirm our intolerance for verbal and physical assaults
against any person on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity, disability, gender, or sexual
orientation. We support efforts to eliminate prejudice through education and
advocate training for our law enforcement personnel to assist them in recognizing
and responding more effectively to this type of crime. We support legislation to
combat hate crimes, and the collection and dissemination of information about their
prevalence by governmental agencies such as the U.S. Department of Justice.
PART VII: HOUSING AND URBAN INVESTMENT
Housing. We believe the public sector has a vital role to play in the provision of
safe, affordable, and fair housing. We recognize a crisis in housing costs across the
Commonwealth, and we advocate a heightened priority for affordability initiatives,
including the creation of a responsible state agency with full Cabinet-level status.
We believe that tax incentives to spur private construction of low-income housing
are important and appropriate parts of both state and federal tax codes. We support
state and federal efforts to assist qualified first-time homebuyers. We strongly
endorse laws against discrimination in the sale or provision of housing, and those
providing for units accessible to persons with disabilities.
Urban Investment.We restate our support for strong state and federal involvement
in, and aid for, the needs of cities. We back the establishment of community
development banks and recognize the vital role of community-based development
organizations in providing affordable housing. We endorse existing federal
Empowerment Zone and Enterprise Zone initiatives and advocate state “zones” that
would supplement federal resources by providing a mix of tax incentives, venture
capital, job training resources, and access to technology.
Redlining and Predatory Lending. We understand that where redlining occurs
in the financial services and insurance industries, job growth, entrepreneurship, and
home ownership are profoundly undermined within low-income and urban communities.
We strongly support The Community Reinvestment Act that requires lenders
to offer loans and banking services to qualified residents in all communities within
their service areas. We strongly support legislation and enforcement actions against
predatory lenders and lending practices.
Rental Opportunities.We recognize the crisis across the Commonwealth in the
availability of affordable rental units and seek innovative and effective ways to
address it. We call for additional federal and state support for affordable housing,
including both the production of new housing, and the preservation of so-called
expiring use units. We advocate state assistance through programs like the
Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program. We support cooperative efforts to increase
the supply of appropriate student housing, decreasing the pressures on private rental
Public Housing. We believe that public housing continues to play a critical role
in the Commonwealth. We do not believe that provision of vouchers to public housing
tenants should result in diminished support for federal or state supported public
housing, and we do not support public housing policies that result in a net loss of
units. We endorse initiatives in which tenants assume managerial or ownership
responsibilities, and encourage tenant-management partnerships to improve security
and for other purposes. We support adoption of policies that allow expulsion of tenants
involved with drug dealing or other disruptive criminal activity.
On-site Services. We recognize that residents of public and moderate income
subsidized housing often require access to social service networks. We firmly support
the targeting of recreational, educational, vocational, and health resources to
residents of public and subsidized sector housing.
Homelessness.We believe that the availability of a permanent and stable home
in which to live is a basic right of all people, including children, and persons with
physical or mental disabilities, HIV/AIDS, and victims of poverty, abuse, or violence.
We recognize the need for adequate day care, job training, and affordable
rental housing in eradicating this persistent problem.
PART VIII: ENVIRONMENT, PRESERVATION & SUSTAINABLITY
Safeguarding Natural Resources. We believe in the protection and preservation
of our environment. We support rules and incentives for safeguarding natural
resources and acquisitions of land, water and recreational resources. We believe in
the value of public parks and beaches in our Commonwealth that are clean, safe,
well maintained, and which offer a wide range of recreational choices. We support
the state transfer of land situated above the sole source aquifer which provides the
water supply to the Department of Enviromental Management. We support state
assistance for communities to protect, by purchase or conservation restriction,
threatened parcels, with a priority on riparian lands or wetlands, wildlife habitat,
and urban and semi-urban communities with little open space left. We oppose any
new efforts to drill off of our coasts in special water bodies such as Georges Bank.
Environmental Justice. We affirm the right of every person and community to a
clean, safe, and healthy environment. We believe environmental justice must be a
fundamental component of state and federal environmental policy, and that its criteria
and standards are vital to the fair and full assessment of environmental impacts.
We give the highest priority to ensuring the health and safety of children, elders,
and immune-compromised people who are most in need of protection from environmental
harms. We support the development of new, stronger standards for siting
pollution-emitting facilities that take account of the cumulative health impacts of
pollution sources already present in a neighborhood or region.
Climate Change.We know the scientific evidence for global climate change is
clear and incontrovertible, and we recognize the human, environmental, and economic
risk it poses. We call on our society, including specifically our businesses
and industries, and our state, and our federal government to take immediate and
pro-active steps to prevent the harmful impacts of rising global temperatures on the
people of the Commonwealth and our environment. We advocate specific targets for
the reduction in emissions of carbon dioxide and other climate change gases,
including reducing carbon dioxide emissions from our dirtiest power plants by 75%,
producing 20% of our state’s energy from renewable energy sources by 2010, and
doubling energy efficiency of our homes, buildings and industry with a focus on
energy efficiency in state buildings. We support the aggressive implementation of
the state’s utility deregulation law alternative energy fund provisions and other state
and federal renewable energy incentives.
Smart Growth and Discouraging Sprawl. We seek policies that encourage
smart and sustainable land uses, and which discourage the poorly planned, landand
automobile-intensive pattern of development known as sprawl. We support
thoughtful approaches to development that promote economic prosperity while limiting
environmental impacts, like overuse of already diminished water supplies, and
improving quality of life through shorter commutes and closer-knit, more livable
communities. We encourage new growth and jobs in already-developed areas that
have the infrastructure, such as public transportation, in place to support them without
undue environmental consequences. We strongly support the state’s Interbasin
Transfer Act, preventing major diversions of water from one watershed to another,
and oppose wasteful taxpayer subsidies for projects that exacerbate sprawl and its
Solid Waste and Pollution Prevention.We support continued efforts to prevent
pollution in the first place as the best means of limiting toxic and solid waste. We
advocate an approach in which the state’s wastes will be stored, treated, and disposed
of in ways that prevent harm to people and the environment.
Toxics Use Reductions and Right-to-Know.We strongly support the state’s
Toxics Use Reduction Law and other Right-to-Know measures that help protect
public and worker health while encouraging reduced use of environmentally hazardous
materials. We advocate expanded disclosure with respect to highly toxic substances
like lead and mercury and pesticides.
Hazardous Waste Cleanup. We advocate the full cleanup and redevelopment of
hazardous waste sites, and the targeting of state Brownfields Act dollars to poorer
and urban areas. We support a strong Superfund program that continues to make
polluters and economic beneficiaries of the pollution, not taxpayers, pay for the
comprehensive cleanup of toxic waste sites. We believe that community members
deserve greater input into the cleanup of toxic waste sites in their neighborhoods,
and that hazardous waste sites must be cleaned up completely, permanently, and
Clean Water.We believe in the right of all residents of the Commonwealth to
drinking water that is clean and safe to drink. Effective protection of America’s
rivers, lakes, wetlands, aquifers and coastal and ocean waters will sustain fish,
plants and wildlife as well as recreational, subsistence, and economic activities. We
support the State Revolving Loan Fund for drinking water and wastewater projects,
and a strong Coastal Zone Management program to ensure the vitality of coastal
communities and industries. We advocate aggressive implementation of The
Beaches Act, and the addition of the Massachusetts Bay as an Ocean Sanctuary and
enhanced enforcement of the Ocean Sanctuaries Act.
Clean Air.We believe in the right of all residents of the Commonwealth to air
that is clean and safe to breathe. We call on the state to continue to lead with a
Clean Air Act that is more stringent than federal law, and we recognize benefits to
both environment and the public health, such as those with respect to children, the
elderly, and other people with respiratory ailments like asthma. We must follow
through on the commitment to clean up the state’s older, dirtier coal and oil-fired
plants through a four pollutant approach that achieves reductions in carbon dioxide,
sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and mercury consistent with levels to protect the
public and environment. We strongly advocate increased renewable energy and efficiency
Reduced Vehicle Emissions. We recognize the need to reduce tailpipe pollution
from automobiles, trucks and buses, and we advocate retaining the state’s current
commitment to adopt the California automobile emission requirements. We support
increasing transportation choices that foster public transportation, and we strongly
endorse innovative proposals to limit emissions from air traffic.
Food Safety, Pesticides and Public Health. We advocate strong laws and policies
to assure that the food we eat is free from environmental contaminants like
unsafe pesticide residues. We support efforts to reduce pesticide use through integrated
pest management and the swift implementation of the Children’s Protection
Act assuring advance notification to those most likely being exposed to pesticides
used on lawns, for landscaping and at schools. We believe state and federal regulatory
agencies should pay especially close attention to pollutants that have a direct
impact on our families’ health, with a particular emphasis on regulating mercury,
arsenic, pesticides, and lead.
Environmental Law Enforcement.We believe it is a basic responsibility of
government to ensure that all laws enacted to protect our environment are obeyed
and enforced. We support more frequent inspections, vigorous enforcement, penalties
sufficiently high to take away any economic incentive to disobey the law, and
earmarking a portion of such penalties for environmental cleanup.
Federal/State Cooperation and Compliance Assistance. We applaud the cooperative
partnership programs established between state and federal environmental
protection agencies, which maximize efficiency and ensure consistency in the
enforcement of environmental regulations. We support efforts to provide education
and assistance to business, universities, hospitals and industry to enable them to
comply with regulations and go beyond compliance. We support an aggressive program
to work with these sectors to foster environmental management systems within
PART IX: POLITICAL PARTICIPATION & REFORM
Clean Elections.We believe that to ensure equal representation and to restore
public faith in our democracy, we must act to curtail the influence of special interest
money on our political process. To help accomplish our goals of political reform,
we call for the complete implementation and the full funding from general revenues
of the Clean Elections System, in a fashion consistent with voter intent in approving
this initiative. We recognize that aspects of this legislation give rise to legitimate
concerns, difficulties, and differences of opinion and we support continuing efforts
to resolve these. We endorse such proposals as enhance the workability of the
System and the likelihood of candidate participation, and which are consistent with
voter intent. Among these is full public funding for the legitimate costs of serving
constituents as an elected legislator, separate from public funding for the Clean
Elections System and supplanting expenditures that currently must be made from
National Campaign Finance Reform.We support federal campaign finance
reforms that act to limit campaign spending, remove the influence of large-donor
contributions, end the soft money system, and create a level playing field for candidates
and voters. We endorse the McCain-Feingold Bill and urge its approval by
Congress. We reaffirm our support for voluntary systems of comprehensive public
financing for qualified candidates paired to campaign spending limits. We support
proposals to increase communication between candidates and voters through access
to free television time, reduced postage rates, and other means that may be deemed
Ballot Access.We believe the right to vote is made meaningful only when
joined with access to the ballot. We note recent events in Florida and elsewhere that
again demonstrate how flawed procedures can result in unjust discrimination among
voters on the basis of race, national origin, age or other characteristics, and can create
needless uncertainty around outcomes. We strongly support efforts like the
Motor Voter law that ease potential barriers to registration and voting and encourage
maximum public participation. We call on the Commonwealth to make usability by
persons with disabilities, senior citizens, and others a criterion in the purchase of
new voting equipment, and we seek the strongest possible enforcement of existing
laws to ensure full and equal access to the ballot and polling places.
Representation.We support efforts to ensure the most accurate possible count
of all Americans through the decennial Census. We believe that these data are critical
to the fair and representative distribution of Congressional and Legislative districts,
and to appropriate apportionment of government benefits and responsibilities
among the states of the nation and the communities of the Commonwealth. We
oppose attempts in Congress to replace actuarial methods advocated by non-partisan
professionals of the U.S. Census Bureau with calculations based on political
PART X: WORKERS’ RIGHTS AND FUTURES
Right to Organize and Strike, and Collective Bargaining.We fully support
the principle, guaranteed under federal and state law, that employees are entitled to
a free choice to form a union without interference, intimidation, or fear of reprisals
from employers. We believe the expansion of collective bargaining assures workplace
democracy and is the best remedy to the crucial problem of wage inequality
that has meant that too many families are not sharing in the economic bounty of our
nation. To make these rights meaningful, we strongly support the right of workers
to strike and to do so without threat of being permanently replaced, and we oppose
all proposals, state or federal, that would diminish this right.
Contingent Workers.We support the creation and maintenance of full-time
jobs that provide a living wage and benefits. We are concerned by the rise in parttime,
temporary, and other contingent jobs that pay less than permanent jobs, lack
benefits, and offer no job security. This trend, demonstrated by such diverse examples
as the growth of temporary employment agencies and universities’ increased
use of adjunct professors, runs counter to our belief in a different model. We believe
jobs should deliver wages sufficient to support families, appropriate health and
other benefits, and the prospect of a secure retirement. We support policies that promote
equal pay for contingent workers doing the same work as permanent employees,
and comparable benefits or equivalent compensation for these workers.
Wages.We believe Americans who work productively in a full-time job earn the
right to a wage that is sufficient to make ends meets and to live above poverty. We
strongly support state and federal minimum wage laws, and seek to restore their
buying power to more reasonable levels, including by indexing to inflation the
minimum wage assured by such laws. We support the state prevailing wage law and
its enforcement. We endorse the Responsible Employer Ordinance and its requirements,
which are: pay the prevailing wage, provide health insurance for all employees,
be affiliated with a state-certified apprenticeship program, classify workers as
employees and not “independent contractors,” provide appropriate workers compensation
insurance for employees, and comply with local residency requirements
when insisted upon by the community. We support measures to halt abusive practices
that unjustly reduce wages, such as unfair and excessive payroll deductions for
employer mandated transportation services.
Occupational Safety. We believe that the right of workers to be safe in their
work environment must be protected. We support the Comprehensive Occupational
Safety and Health Reform Act to strengthen the protections guaranteed to workers
against workplace hazards. We support environmental Right-to-Know laws about
chemical and other potential dangers to worker health. We oppose efforts to weaken
workplace safety standards, or the ability of OSHA or state-level agencies to
Discrimination in the Workplace.We believe in equal employment opportunities
for all citizens and a fair chance to obtain a meaningful job. We endorse equal
access to all trades and occupations without regard to race, ethnicity, religion, age,
gender, sexual orientation, or disability. We endorse equal pay and benefits for work
of comparable worth. We endorse the requirement of adequate workplace notice
and uniform grievance procedures. We call for the enforcement of civil protections
for victims of discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace, and for
extending the statute of limitations for filing workplace discrimination and sexual
harassment complaints. We believe that workplace wage and anti-discrimination
protections should extend to workers in the public as well as private sectors.
PART XI: AMERICA AND THE WORLD
America’s Role in a Global Community.We believe the United States must be
a leader in world affairs and we reject policies of isolationism or indifference to the
events and people around us. We champion American leadership for peace and the
non-violent resolution of conflict, the advancement of human rights and the cause
of religious and intellectual freedoms, the eradication of unjust discrimination in all
forms, and the promotion of economic arrangements that maximize opportunity for
Democracy and Prosperity Abroad.We advocate policies to foster the growth
of democratic institutions, elective government, and freedom of thought and expression
around the world. We recognize the connection between political democracy
and material well-being and progress. We restate our support for programs to alleviate
hunger, poverty, and disease wherever they occur, and to promote economic
prosperity in all parts of the world. We recognize the need for heightened American
attention with respect to the concerns and interests of whole regions of the globe,
including specifically, Africa. We reaffirm our support for the existence and security
of the democratic state of Israel, and continued American involvement in the effort
to ensure peace in that region. We urge ongoing efforts by all parties toward realizing
the full promise of the peace accords in Northern Ireland.
Weapons Reductions.We favor continued multi-lateral reductions to existing
weapons stockpiles, and maximum possible efforts to halt the proliferation of
nuclear, chemical, biological or other weapons of mass destruction. We oppose
Bush Administration proposals for deployment of a missile defense system, socalled,
that would undermine existing arms treaties and alienate allies while failing
to enhance the security of the United States.
The United Nations and Human Rights Conventions.We believe the United
Nations plays a constructive and necessary role in international relations and we
advocate full and fair American financial support of its functions and institutions.
We recognize the importance of multilateral conventions and treaties to human and
worker rights and protections. We call for U.S. ratification of The Convention on
the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and The Covenant
on the Rights of the Child.
“Better the occasional errors of a caring government than the intentional omissions
of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference.”
-- Franklin Delano Roosevelt