Economic Development: The Top Priority for Massachusetts
Steve Grossman believes that economic development and job growth are the highest priorities for Massachusetts's officials.
The Commonwealth has been hit by the worst recession since the Great Depression at a time when it has not fully recovered from the last downturn. Signature Bay State companies have either been acquired by out-of-state corporations or have moved significant parts of their operations out of the Commonwealth. The economic crisis has led to a series of deep state budget cuts that have reduced important services and imperil the state's quality of life. The need to create new jobs and businesses in Massachusetts is greater than ever before.
Steve will use the Treasurer's role as the state's Chief Financial Officer along with his experience as a business, civic, and political leader to help rebuild the Massachusetts economy.
Steve has honed those leadership skills as CEO of his fourth-generation family business for 35 years, creating jobs, meeting payrolls, managing money, solving problems, and dealing with crises. He has been a leader in civic organizations that are committed to building a better Massachusetts and a more inclusive society. As a political activist, he has repeatedly demonstrated his ability to lead, bringing stakeholders together to find creative and effective solutions to urgent problems.
He grew his company's revenues eightfold, entering new markets and repositioning the company to meet the challenges of an evolving economy. He knows what it's like to keep a business going in tough times while looking out for his workers and colleagues. Grossman Marketing Group isn't one of those companies that Washington will label "too big to fail" and throw bailouts its way. It succeeds because of the family's dedication to its customers, the energy and creativity of its employees, and just plain hard work - qualities he will bring to Beacon Hill.
Steve believes the Treasurer can play at least three major roles in economic and jobs development.
First, he will make maximum use of the office's powers to help restore Massachusetts's financial health, create jobs and build new businesses in the Commonwealth.
While official budget authority lies elsewhere, the Treasurer is empowered to be a watchdog that monitors revenues and expenditures and can spot potential problems with the state budget -- and Steve will vigorously take on that job. Steve also will use his proven leadership skills and network of relationships to help ensure that all branches of state government are working together to protect the jobs, savings, and future of the people of Massachusetts.
Steve will use the Treasury's Economically Targeted Investment (ETI) program to invest in Massachusetts's future. Under this program, a portion of Massachusetts's pension funds can be used to achieve specific economic objectives (subject, of course, to strict rules of prudent investing).
Massachusetts's economy has suffered through repeated boom and bust cycles over the last half century. Today, however, we are seeing a disturbing trend in which, even during periods of growth, emerging businesses are selling to out-of-state investors or corporations at an early stage so that the degree of Massachusetts economic gain resulting from Massachusetts innovation is undercut. As Treasurer, Steve Grossman will seek innovative ways to use the ETI program to provide alternative financing opportunities to Bay State entrepreneurs so that they will not have to prematurely sell off huge investment stakes in their companies, thus allowing them to fully launch their businesses and keep much-needed jobs in Massachusetts.
Significant progress, however, will require public-private partnerships. Steve will use his relationships with the financial community and his knowledge of the needs of businesspeople to forge investment programs that can grow jobs in Massachusetts.
The second key element of Steve's plan for economic growth is fostering educational excellence, both by promoting financial education and empowerment through the treasurer's office and by working with Massachusetts educational institutions to help them provide their students with the courses and facilities they need to compete in the modern economy.
Steve will establish an Office of Financial Education to develop Internet-based informational materials and courses in partnership with Massachusetts educational institutions. He will explore strategies such as interactive tools to help consumers assess their financial situation, opening one-to-one counseling centers, an "800" number for telephone consultation services, and special programs aimed at building small- and mid-sized businesses in economically stressed sections of the state.
He will work collaboratively with non-profit and other community institutions as well as labor unions to ensure that financial literacy tools and information reach the widest possible audience. And he will seek public-private task forces or partnerships that can expand the scope and reach of financial education and empowerment programs.
Steve will work with high schools and community colleges to ensure that students are educated in the scientific, mathematical, and technical skills needed to be winners in the 21st century's innovation-driven economy. It is not only about helping excellent students become PhDs; it's also about community colleges offering students training to become certified technicians so they can qualify for higher-level positions at technology-driven growth companies.
As Chairman of the Massachusetts School Building Authority, Steve will vigorously champion quality education in the Commonwealth. He will ensure that school facilities have modern computer and communications technologies that students desperately need access to. He also will reach out to technology companies that want to partner with public schools to provide training and equipment needed to create a competitive workforce.
Third, as head of the State Lottery, the Treasurer is a source for more than $800 million of financial support to Commonwealth's 351 cities and towns, and Steve will work relentlessly to protect that aid.
Local aid is essential to maintaining education, public safety, and other vital services, which in turn are what permit Bay State communities to offer a high quality of life that will attract businesses and workers.
Without help from the Lottery, the pain of the fiscal crunch on Massachusetts's residents would have been much worse. Steve will work tirelessly to maintain Lottery revenues. Moreover, with expanded gaming an increasing possibility in Massachusetts, he will insist that the Treasurer has a prominent seat at the table in any expansion of gaming in Massachusetts.
While Steve has in the past expressed reservations about government dependence on gaming revenues, the reality is that Massachusetts citizens spend an estimated $1 billion annually at casinos in neighboring states. The governor and our legislative leadership have concluded that we cannot afford to lose that revenue. Gaming is no cure-all, but with unemployment above 9%, we cannot afford to turn away the opportunity for thousands of good-paying jobs.
As the state pursues new gaming revenue, however, Steve Grossman will work vigorously to ensure that aid to local communities from the Lottery must be preserved and, in fact, enhanced by expanded gaming in Massachusetts.
The consensus of experts is that casino gaming will undercut the Lottery and, just as Lottery revenues are earmarked for local aid, so must the state set aside a share of gaming money for the cities and towns. Otherwise, we are simply exchanging one fiscal problem for another.