Lieutenant gubernatorial candidate Richard Tisei visits UMass

By R.P. Hitt

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Hannah Cohen, Collegian Staff

Candidate for lieutenant governor Richard Tisei visited the University of Massachusetts Tuesday Oct. 5 in the Cape Cod Lounge, where he outlined his plans to boost the Mass. economy and maintain high standards for education in the state. Tisei is a veteran of the Mass. state senate since 1985 and the first openly gay person to run for lieutenant governor in the country.

“The state hasn’t prioritized enough to make sure that higher education gets the resources that it needs,” Tisei said. “We are also looking at the entire state budget and there is a lot of waste, mismanagement and duplication of services.”

“We need to fix that so we have funds that can go to the programs that really need it,” she continued.

Tisei said that he and Baker would not consider cutting funding of education from the state, pointing to the large cuts that have already been made on education in the past two years.

“What has happened is that in the past two years higher education in Mass. has been cut $140 million, more than any other state except for Alabama,” Tisei said. “We will be very careful with the higher education budget, because we understand that, particularly in a tough economy, the state university system needs our support.”

Since Tisei’s first election in 1985 and subsequent 12 elections to the state senate, he has been a strong proponent for deregulation of small businesses, which can be traced to his own small business endeavor as the owner of a real estate brokerage company, and plans to help small businesses by cutting regulation.

“It’s very difficult for small businesses in particular to navigate their way through all the regulations in place right now,” Tisei said. “These regulations are strangling innovations and preventing small businesses from hiring new people.”

Tisei pledged if elected, he and Baker will implement a freeze on regulation along with reviewing past regulation.

“We also want to revisit the [Mass.] corporate tax rate which one of the highest in the country,” Tisei said. “Rather than having different tax rates for different types of businesses we want to try to get the tax rate at 5 percent across the board [for businesses].”

If Tisei is elected, he will be the first openly gay lieutenant governor in U.S. history. Tisei spoke on his role as an openly gay figure in a GOP that has been traditionally against gay marriage.

“[This election] is kind of historic in a sense,” Tisei said. “But I kind of view if I do a good job as lieutenant governor I want people to judge me on the content of my character and the work I do.

“I have been elected and re-elected 13 times. I feel very comfortable in my own skin. I feel like the best thing I can do is be a good role model and good example for the community.”

Tisei also spoke on the reception he has from the public of the Commonwealth.

“During the campaign [my sexual orientation] has not really become a big issue because people judge me on my entire track record,” Tisei said.

Tisei’s stated goal if his ticket gets elected is make government more efficient. Tisei claimed that the state does not have as much pressure as a private business or a family does when making and sticking to a budget. Tisei remarked on the lack of competition in Mass. for business, which has led to the exodus of young people right out of college from the state.

“When you watch the Red Sox at Baltimore or Tampa Bay, you see more Red Sox fans than hope town fans in the stands,” Tisei said. “All of those people were Mass. residents that decided Massachusetts was not the best place and decided to move out.”

Candidate Tisei pointed to the Pacheco bill passed in 1993, which led to what he believes the prevention of the privatization of public services. Tisei claims that if the bill was repealed and private companies were allowed to perform public services, it would save the state between $250 and $500 million.

In order to reign in beaurocracy, Baker and Tisei plan on eliminating 5,000 state jobs. According to Tisei, these jobs are duplicates of other governmental jobs and are not needed.

Tisei remarked on an apparent disconnect between Beacon Hill and the people of Mass. embodied by the 310,000 of state residents currently unemployed. Although the Baker and Tisei ticket wants to raise the retirement age from 55 to 65.

Candidate Tisei was the first speaker for the Republican Club this year.

“[Tisei] aligns himself mostly with his running mate’s views, and what’s important about him is that he is not about party politics, but what is best for the state right now,” said Justin Thompson, president of the Republican Club.

Thompson said that Tisei’s sexual orientation did not factor into the club’s decision to have him as their guest speaker.

Bobby Hitt can be reached at [email protected]