This November, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts will elect a new governor.
All of the candidates for the state's top job were invited to a forum Saturday morning, put on by the Service Employees International Union.
Only the Democratic candidates attended, but they covered a wide range of topics.
Early in the race, it has been Martha Coakley and Steve Grossman in the forefront.
The two have raised the most money, and polls show them as the favorites. But they do not necessarily share the same viewpoints, especially when it comes to immigration reform.
"As attorney general, I've made sure that as we've enforced the labor laws, we held companies accountable regardless of the status of the workers," said Coakley, the current attorney general of Massachusetts. "I know we're having a great discussion about the driver's licenses, even in your own communities, about what kind of licenses those should be."
"I would like to invite the attorney general to join the rest of us and actually say, 'I support driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants,' because it is a public safety issue," said Grossman, the Bay State's current treasurer. "Nobody should be driving in this commonwealth without a driver's license, insurance. It is a public safety issue."
Candidate Don Berwick, who formerly was the administrator of the federal Medicare and Medicaid programs under President Barack Obama, had strong feelings about the state finding healthcare savings.
"Healthcare costs have gone up 59 percent in the past decade," Berwick told the SEIU crowd. "Your wages, your take-home pay has not. It's all gone to healthcare. That's because we've built a very complex system. Part of that complexity is administrative."
When it comes to the state budget, candidate Joe Avellone III, a healthcare professional, and Juliette Kayyem, a national security advisor for both President Obama and Gov. Deval Patrick, were on the same page, saying there needs to be new ideas.
"We think that healthcare is so sacrosanct that we can't touch it," said Avellone. "That is not true. We can make it much more efficient. All of you that work in healthcare know that that's true. We can get doctors to work in teams. We can move away from fee for service."
"The budget I would inherit if I were governor envisions $1 billion being spent on prison construction by 2020," Kayyem stated. "It's outrageous. I'm the first Democrat to have come out with a comprehensive criminal justice reform policy, to change this issue forever for this state."
For a complete recap of Saturday's forum, check out Rob Rizzuto's article at MassLive.com.
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