Platform

The 2013 Massachusetts Democratic Party Platform

STATEMENT OF VALUES

Massachusetts Democrats believe in and work for the common good. We know that the strength of our democracy is dependent on the engagement of thoughtful citizens. That is why our party is organized around the basic notion that individuals working together can make a positive impact on their community. Massachusetts Democrats believe that government plays a vital role in the lives of individuals and communities. We recognize that investment in these priorities benefits sustainable economic growth and family-sustaining jobs.

PREAMBLE

-    We want health care to be a basic human right;

-    We want everyone to be able to work for a living wage and have the right to organize;

-    We want a high-quality education to be accessible to every person;

-    We want to play an active role in addressing climate change;

-    We want everyone to have a clean and healthy environment, including open spaces;

-    We want to promote clean energy technologies, conservation and efficiency;

-    We want safe and crime-free communities;

-    We want all persons to be treated as equals;

-    We want equal treatment for women in the workplace and support efforts to recruit more Democratic women candidates;

-    We want immigration policies which are fair and sensible, and which neither allow for the exploitation of immigrants nor turn away those with needed skills;

-    We want a transparent and ethical government;

-    We want taxes to be reasonable and expenditures to be fairly distributed;

-    We want roads, bridges, and public transportation to be safe and reliable;

-    We want affordable, high-quality housing to be available to all who need it;

-    We want strong national defense, security at home and abroad, and pledge to support veterans and all who have put themselves in harm’s way on our behalf;

-    We want strong diplomacy and support nonviolent conflict resolution as a first resort in our domestic and foreign relations and call for a reduced military budget that allows for investment in human needs;

-    We want voter equality and access to government for all; and

-    We respect and embrace the values of people across the spectrum of beliefs.

BUSINESS AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP

Massachusetts Democrats understand that we are the pro-business party, building incentives for local control and entrepreneurial success which leads both to profitable enterprise and positive outcomes for our citizens and communities. As we enrich, sustain, and invest in our neighborhoods, partnering with businesses that remain locally rooted, we see government at the intersection of healthy business and healthy communities, creating a balance that supports both, and links them together. We embrace the entrepreneurial spirit that exists in our immigrant communities, and welcome these new Americans into our country and our party. We also understand that we must measure our business success by additional criteria that show the breadth and depth of our economic and social progress such as economic mobility, access to education, and livable wages, rather than criteria that do not adequately reflect small business health and middle class progress. Massachusetts Democrats support:

-    Healthy financial services like cooperative banks, mutuals, and credit unions that invest locally rather than extract wealth and upstream profit;

-    Healthy energy-producing companies that decentralize energy production, creating jobs in a sustainable economy and environment;

-    Healthy food production by providing incentives and protection for local farmers, fishers, and other producers who create homegrown alternatives to agribusiness;

-    A tax code that sets different rates according to corporate ownership structure, leveling the playing field and creating preferences for businesses that generate community growth and participation;

-    Investment in infrastructure as a key to making more businesses successful, bringing more good jobs into the economy; and

-    A clear long-term vision, offered by our leaders, partnering with organized labor in the public and private sectors, which define our priorities and direction, encouraging smart long-term planning by our private sector.

ECONOMIC GROWTH

Massachusetts Democrats believe that growing our economy is one of the most pressing issues facing our state. We believe in the importance of job creation and economic opportunities for all to strengthen our Commonwealth’s middle class. We support strengthening our economy through continued investment in infrastructure, transportation and education. We believe that focusing on our labor force will drive economic success. Massachusetts Democrats support:

-    Continuing and strengthening our current and historic focus on innovation;

-    Our long-term industries, including agriculture, fishing and manufacturing;

-    Continued workforce education to ensure that our workforce remains competitive;

-    Investment in transportation infrastructure linking communities to each other and to jobs across the Commonwealth;

-    Continued investment in sustainable, environmentally and socially responsible green jobs and 21st-century green technologies; and

-    Tax policies that are equitable to both workers and businesses.

EDUCATION

Massachusetts Democrats believe that all Massachusetts residents should have access to high-quality educational opportunities from birth through adulthood. We believe that our public education system should successfully prepare our children for lifelong learning and give them the tools to make contributions to our communities and to the intellectual, cultural, and civic life of the Commonwealth. We believe that our teachers, and the role they play in shaping the future of the Commonwealth, are deserving of the utmost respect. Our public education system must meet students where they are and give them the quantity and quality of instruction that they need to meet high proficiency standards and to prepare them for college and career success. Massachusetts Democrats are committed to investing in public education because we know that it is the cornerstone of our society, our democracy, and our economic future. Massachusetts Democrats Support:

-    High-quality, universal preschool and full-day kindergarten;

-    Ensuring that all students are reading proficiently by the third grade;

-    Closing achievement gaps that disproportionately affect students of color, low income students, English language learners, students with disabilities, and students in the Commonwealth’s Gateway Cities;

-    High school dropout prevention programs;

-    Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) curriculum in our schools;

-    Professional development for public educators;

-    Differentiated learning environments, extended learning time, and more learning opportunities beyond the traditional school day and school year, including high-quality after-school and summer enrichment programs;

-    The preservation and enhancement of our school and public libraries;

-    Civics education as an integral part of public school curriculum;

-    Accessibility for students with disabilities and adequate funding;

-    Engagement between schools and families, students, and the community in order to improve students’ academic outcomes and provide them with a healthy platform for learning;

-    Innovative programs to encourage recruitment and retention of high quality teachers;

-    Public higher education sustained by state funding commitments;

-    College affordability and needs-based financial aid;

-    Multiple pathways to college and career readiness in a high skills/high knowledge economy, including our vocational-technical schools and community colleges;

-    In-state tuition for all resident students who are admitted to Massachusetts public colleges and universities;

-    Programs that support Adult Basic Education and English for speakers of other languages; and

-    A safe, supportive, and inclusive learning environment for all students and anti-bullying policies in schools that specifically enumerate protection for students who are targeted for harassment on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity or expression.

ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT

Massachusetts Democrats believe in safeguarding the health of our citizens, protecting natural ecosystems, and catalyzing green economic growth. We believe that people have the right to clean air, clean water, clean soil and a safe and healthy environment. We believe that promoting clean-energy technologies, energy conservation, and energy efficiency is critically important to lowering energy costs, enhancing energy security and reliability, growing green jobs, and reaping environmental benefits. Massachusetts Democrats Support:

-    Preserving our natural resources and protecting and expanding our open spaces;

-    Protecting our air and water;

-    Environmental justice for low income and minority communities;

-    Providing clean, reliable, and renewable energy, and investing in the development of these technologies;

-    Energy conservation and energy efficiency;

-    Protecting our wildlife and natural habitats and prioritizing the preservation of open spaces and urban wilds by all means necessary, including state and municipal acquisition;

-    Reducing waste and increasing recycling in all of our communities, and increasing access to recycling and safe disposal facilities for hazardous materials;

-    Smart Growth development;

-    Increasing investments and promotion of public transportation throughout the Commonwealth;

-    Water and waste water infrastructure improvements;

-    Promoting strategies to quickly stabilize atmospheric CO2 based on the recommendations of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, currently set at a maximum of 350 parts per million;

-    Divesting public pensions, trusts and other financial instruments away from producers of non-renewable energy sources in favor of green and renewable energy producers; and

-    Policies which accurately reflect the cost of producing and burning carbon-based fuels.

CLIMATE CRISIS

Massachusetts Democrats recognize that climate change is real and is already causing disruption and destruction to our property and our lives. The melting of polar ice caps, increased numbers and severity of storms, increased drought and flooding are all changes we cannot ignore. We understand that these changes are a direct result of human activity, primarily green house gas emissions from burning fossil fuels including coal, oil and natural gas. We understand that the resulting Climate Crisis requires prioritized attention and action on the scale equivalent to a major war. It is urgent that we take immediate action at all levels of government. Massachusetts Democrats Support:

-    Remembering and acting upon the reality that we have the resources in the public and private sectors to address climate change successfully if we promptly shift our resources toward smart policies and programs.

-    Providing local, state, national, and international leadership in addressing climate change.

-    Changing to a sustainable economy rather than one structured around the presumption of growth and presumed increases in population and consumption.

-    Preparing for the anticipated impacts of climate change, including flooding, storms, species migration, heat waves, etc., and communicating with the public forthrightly about the realities of those impacts and the requirements of mitigation.

-    Reducing fossil fuel consumption to the maximum extent possible. This includes rejection of tar sands oil, including the Keystone XL and Northeast pipelines; rejection of fracking; and elimination of coal capacity.

-    Disinvesting taxpayer funds from programs and policies that subsidize fossil fuel production.

-    Putting a price on carbon using a tax, a cap and trade system, or some other mechanism.

-    Investing in wind, solar, and other renewable energy sources to replace fossil fuels.

-    Accelerating weatherization and other programs to help individuals and businesses reduce the net amount of carbon entering the atmosphere, through methods that create local jobs whenever possible, that do not bloat bureaucracy, and do not merely subsidize or support existing state vendors but instead foster market creativity and innovation.

-    Encouraging voluntary behavior changes that reduce the impacts of climate change and/or improve the ability to cope effectively.

-    Updating and upgrading infrastructure projects of all types, including transportation systems, with commitments to minimize climate change and its impacts.

-    Upgrading the Massachusetts public transportation system so that by 2060, 90% of the population in and near Boston can travel to destinations without using personal fossil-fueled vehicles. Alternative methods include public transportation, bicycles and other person-powered vehicles, as well as public personally-driven electric vehicles.

-    Recognizing that the party with the strongest grass-roots organization will be in the best position to develop and implement the needed institutional, social and political changes required to cope with climate change.

-    Coordinating networking opportunities within our grass roots organization by creating a Climate Action working committee as part of the State Committee, and a caucus of one or two members from each Town Committee to act as an ad-hoc subcommittee.

ETHICS AND TRANSPARENCY

Massachusetts Democrats believe that public officials should be held to the highest standards of integrity and accountability. We believe that government should be open and inclusive. We know that preserving the public’s trust in government is critically important to the future of our democracy. As such, Massachusetts Democrats Support:

-    Public hearings and other opportunities for citizens to influence the legislative process;

-    Developing and utilizing accessible technologies to allow citizens to more directly interface with government and public services;

-    Introducing and ratifying a Constitutional Amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission; and

-    Ethics reforms that maintain the integrity of government.

-    Merit-based hiring of employees in the public sector through a transparent process, including the public posting of positions, in the interest of eliminating patronage hiring.

-    The public financing of all partisan elections in Massachusetts, in order to reduce the influence of lobbyists, corporate special interests and wealth, increase election competition, and provide an opportunity for every citizen, regardless of economic circumstance, to run for public office.

-    Ensuring that the public has convenient, inexpensive, and quick access to all public documents, at the executive, legislative, judicial, and local levels of government. In order to achieve this, all public information should be posted on government websites, using a machine-readable format.

-    State constitutional offices and the legislature should be as transparent in its deliberations as possible, including holding open public meetings as part of all decision-making processes concerning legislation, budgets, and policies.

-    The Legislature should be an institution that empowers every member of the House of Representatives and the State Senate to have an equal voice in how decisions are reached. The Legislature should also post all roll call votes online, including votes on the floor of the House of Representatives and Senate, and by legislative committees.

HEALTHCARE AND HUMAN SERVICES

Massachusetts Democrats believe that every person should enjoy good quality of life and good health and wellbeing. We believe that high-quality and affordable health care should be available to all through a single payer government sponsored program like Medicare, regardless of employment status.  We support policies which not only make healthcare more affordable, but which reduce its overall cost. We believe that every person and family should have access to what is needed to help them to grow and thrive while living successfully in economic independence. Massachusetts Democrats Support:

-    High-quality, accessible health care services including support services to children and families;

-    Access to preventative care through primary care physicians;

-    Full implementation of health care reform;

-    Eliminating racial and ethnic health disparities;

-    Providing services that support and promote individual choice and civil rights for all people with disabilities;

-    Community based mental health and addiction recovery services;

-    Public health initiatives that help economically disadvantaged individuals, families and other vulnerable populations to sustain health, housing, employment, and good nutrition;

-    Adequate funding for medical research to further advance preventative medicine and to find cures for chronic and debilitating diseases;

-    Women’s reproductive rights and woman’s right to choose;

-    Reducing unintended pregnancies; and

-    Veterans’ health services including those who suffer from physical and mental health issues.

HOUSING

Massachusetts Democrats believe in a decent home and a suitable living environment for every resident.  This goal cannot be attained without a commitment to address the need for affordable housing. We believe in policies which support people on all steps of the housing ladder, and especially those people who are not yet on the first step: the homeless and all those who cannot afford to rent or buy suitable housing. We believe that public-private partnerships are effective solutions to the housing challenges we face. Massachusetts Democrats Support:

-    Upgrading the existing rental housing supply and efforts at all levels of government to encourage the production of new rental units;

-    Policies that support transit oriented development;

-    Increased funding for additional rental assistance and low-income housing opportunities statewide;

-    Increased efforts to protect landlords and tenants against bias, discrimination, and unfair practices;

-    Public and private sector partnerships to support workforce housing ownership programs; and

-    Adequate funding for homeless assistance programs, with a special attention paid to our disabled veterans.

IMMIGRATION

Massachusetts Democrats believe that a sound and humane immigration policy is an opportunity to extend equal freedom, opportunity, and access to the American Dream. We recognize that the strength of Massachusetts, as well as that of the United States, is built on our long history of immigration. This history has resulted in a more prosperous, diverse, and culturally rich state. Massachusetts Democrats support:

-    Recognizing immigrants as important and integral parts of our community, social fabric, and economy;

-    The DREAM Act and extending the same equal access to higher education to all residents;

-    Visa programs that welcome immigrants with needed skills, and would enable immigrants who come here for education to stay after graduation;

-    An immigration process that keeps all types of families together and helps them reunify;

-    A pathway to citizenship to all documented and undocumented immigrants that is fair and timely;

-    Access to linguistically and culturally competent services and fair policies to facilitate immigrant integration into American society;

-    Testing and providing drivers licenses to all of-age residents regardless of immigration status;

-    Enforcement of rules that prevent employers from exploiting immigrants who are afraid to report violations; and

-    The elimination of policies that make local and state officials responsible for the enforcement of national immigration laws, and the elimination of enforcement policies that profile and treat undocumented immigrants as criminals.

JUSTICE, CIVIL RIGHTS AND CIVIL LIBERTIES

Massachusetts Democrats believe in equal justice under the law for all. We believe that discrimination based on race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, age, and disability has no place in our communities. Massachusetts Democrats are committed to protecting individual’s rights to freedom of speech, religion, press, and due process under the law. Massachusetts Democrats Support:

-    Equal opportunities for employment, education, health care, and housing for all;

-    Government’s role in protecting individual civil rights and civil liberties;

-    Ending racial and religious profiling;

-    Marriage equality; and

-    Remaining a death penalty free state.

LABOR

Massachusetts Democrats believe that all working people – regardless of gender, ethnicity, age, race, religion, income, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, immigration or refugee status – should have the right to quality, family-sustaining jobs that provide a living wage, and access to education and training to make them employable and contributors to a healthy economy. We believe that the an essential part of an effective strategy to grow the middle class is to help people get out of poverty and promote economic equality by encouraging collective bargaining, increased unionization, and shared and employee ownership. Massachusetts Democrats Support:

-    The strengthening, enforcement and creation of laws guaranteeing all workers the right to organize, bargain collectively and strike;

-    The enactment of the Employee Free Choice Act and the strengthening of the National Labor Relations Board and of the National Labor Relations Act;

-    A decent living wage for all workers, the state’s Prevailing Wage Law and Responsible Employer Ordinances, the use of Project Labor Agreements, a minimum wage that is increased and indexed to inflation, and equal pay for women;

-    Promotion of a healthy and secure workplace for all workers through the strengthening, enforcement and creation of O.S.H.A. protections and other current and proposed laws and regulations.  There should be wage, worker protection, anti-bullying, and anti-discrimination laws that apply to both public and private sector workers;

-    The strengthening, enforcement, and creation of laws to discourage and prohibit the outsourcing of Massachusetts jobs to states and countries with lower labor standards, and that prohibit the use of public funds to pay for the services of union avoidance consultants;

-    Increased assistance for job training, workforce development, and job creation programs; and

-    The creation of laws and regulations making high-quality health care accessible to all Americans, and the right of workers to take time off to seek medical care for themselves or their family members without risk of losing their jobs.

PUBLIC SAFETY AND CRIME PREVENTION

Massachusetts Democrats believe in evidence-based solutions that promote public safety and reduce crime. We believe the foundation of a strong community is a citizenry that is safe. Therefore, we encourage investment in strategies that best support the efforts of law enforcement. Massachusetts Democrats Support:

-    Preventing gun violence through universal background checks, banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and increasing access to mental health services;

-    Community-based policing;

-    Strong victims’ rights;

-    A review of our sentencing laws, particularly for non-violent drug offenders and mandatory minimums;

-    Leveraging technology to drive intelligence-led law enforcement efforts;

-    Strong state laws and enforcement against hate crimes, child abuse, domestic violence, elder abuse, sexual abuse, and abuse that is directed against people with disabilities;

-    Strong intervention and child abuse prevention programs and services for youth and at-risk individuals;

-    Expanding community-based correctional services;

-    Targeted re-entry programs focused ending the cycle of criminal behavior;

-    Protecting consumers against identity theft and fraud;

-    Addiction prevention and addiction recovery programs;

-    Expanding the juvenile system to include 17 year olds; and

-    Adequately funding state court systems.

REVENUE AND EXPENDITURES

Massachusetts Democrats believe in fiscal responsibility. We also believe that responsible investments today will provide positive outcomes in our communities for years to come. We believe in progressive taxation that provides sufficient revenues to adequately support, build and maintain the governmental infrastructure Massachusetts needs for long term prosperity. We believe that taxes and fees should be fairly distributed and reasonably assessed. Massachusetts Democrats Support:

-    Fair, equitable corporate and personal taxes and fees, which do not unduly burden low income families;

-    Sustainable and predictable state revenue streams;

-    Increased local aid and other forms of assistance to help cities and towns meet their needs;

-    Strategically targeting tax expenditures toward lasting investments in our collective future;

-    Planning and adequate funding for long term responsibilities, including infrastructure and retirement costs;

-    Increasing savings by making government more efficient; and

-    Eliminating tax exemptions for goods which are damaging to public health.

TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE

Massachusetts Democrats believe that the Commonwealth’s transportation and infrastructure systems are a public responsibility and common good, and should be safe, efficient, reliable, accessible, and cost-effective. We believe that our system of roads, bridges, ports, airports, transit, bike paths and walkways should be upgraded to 21st century standards, well-maintained, and built to promote economic development, connect workers with jobs, and knit together our communities throughout the commonwealth. We believe that transportation investments should promote the creation of housing development and employment opportunities, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and preserving our natural and cultural landscapes. Massachusetts Democrats Support:

-    A multi-modal transportation system that equitably distributes the infrastructure and costs of building, operating, and maintaining the system;

-    Increasing, modernizing, and maintaining the affordability of public transportation alternatives;

-    Multi-modal and congestion pricing mechanisms to improve mobility and relieve congestion;

-    Acknowledging the intersection between transportation and public health;

-    Investments in roads and bridges to address decades of neglect;

-    A transportation system that is environmentally conscious, lowers our dependence on foreign and environmentally destructive sources of energy, and is protected against the effects of climate change and rising sea levels; and

-    Investments to upgrade and maintain in good repair our clean and waste water infrastructure systems.

VOTING AND DEMOCRACY

Massachusetts Democrats believe that voting is a right, not a privilege, and that every step should be taken to ensure that all eligible citizens vote in every election by eliminating voter participation barriers. This means that registration should be made as easy as possible, polls should be safe and accessible, the voting process should be quick and efficient, and no citizen should be denied access to the polls. We believe every vote should be counted and that all ballots cast should produce an independent auditable record. Massachusetts Democrats Support:

-    Efforts to register, educate, mobilize, and turnout voters of all ages, especially newly eligible voters;

-    Offering same day registration, early voting and no excuse absentee ballots;

-    Increasing voter participation among underrepresented communities, especially by increasing fairness in redistricting and poll location assignments, including demographic considerations;

-    Taking steps to assure that deployed service members will receive and be capable of casting a valid and effective ballot in any election;

-    Easing barriers for limited English-speaking voters, including providing bilingual or multilingual services when warranted;

-    Resisting efforts to impose new and unnecessary requirements to voting, such as voter ID laws which disproportionately disenfranchise minority, low income, disabled, elderly, and new voters;

-    Well trained, unbiased and voter-friendly poll workers who enhance the voter experience;

-    Voting systems that guarantee that every ballot is counted and secure and that provide an auditable paper trail;

-    Eliminating impediments for women, minority, and disabled individuals to run for public office; and

-    Public funding of elections.

WOMEN

Massachusetts Democrats believe in full equality, regardless of gender, and recognize that gender discrimination and lack of equal opportunity for girls and women are ongoing and pervasive problems which negatively impact us all.  We seek to eliminate all forms of gender discrimination and to ensure equal opportunity for girls and women.  Massachusetts Democrats Support:

-    Equal pay for equal work and income and work support programs to increase economic security for women;

-    Increased gender balance on corporate boards, non-profit boards, and executive and judicial branches of government;

-    Recruiting and supporting Democratic women candidates

-    Protection of a woman’s right to choose;

-    Full access to comprehensive health care, including reproductive health care and women’s cancer prevention, screening, and treatment;

-    Ending domestic abuse and sexual assault, with measures to include age-appropriate anti-violence education;

-    Relationship education as part of the sex education curriculum to promote healthy relationships;

-    Full funding for childcare and early education; and

-    Full funding for child support collection and enforcement.