Independent gubernatorial candidate Jeff McCormick said that he’s invested 25 years in spurring job creation through his venture capital firm Saturn Partners and, despite his never having served in public office, this private-sector experience would spark value and economic growth for the Bay State.
“If there’s anything you remember about me … it should be ‘Jeff for Jobs,’” McCormick said during the sixth gubernatorial roundtable hosted by the Rappaport Center for Law and Public Service at Suffolk University Law School. “We create value that then creates jobs. We can do that throughout the commonwealth. People are hungry to work. You just have to create the opportunity for them to participate in the American Dream.”
The founder of Saturn Partners said he has taken financial chances on companies in a wide variety of sectors critical to the commonwealth, including health care, education, energy, biotechnology and software. The firm’s notable investments include Twin Rivers Technologies, Constant Contact and Boston Duck Tours.
Health care costs
McCormick said that, as governor, he would urge the state to forge “active relationships” with primary care providers to help ease escalating health care costs. He said that other health care initiatives, such as shared patient preferences, would benefit specific populations and work to cut high costs.
“We've got to go upstream and try to really attack where the money is spent and just spend it better, spend it more wisely,” he said. “This is about the middle class. We want a growing middle class. Why? Because that is the structural element that makes everything else work. Everything else topples down if you don't have that.”
Alternative energy as job creator
McCormick said he is a “huge fan” of alternative energy as a way to boost job creation locally and abroad. He added investments in such energy alternatives as natural gas and biotech vectors, or “bugs,” could help make businesses more competitive on a global level even if the state could not meet its targeted clean-energy goals by 2020 and 2050, respectively.
He said the state also needs to invest in vocational training, community colleges and state colleges to retain “future entrepreneurs” upon graduation.
“We need to analyze what jobs are going to be there and start training people for jobs as opposed to just educating people,” he said.
McCormick emphasized that he would “change the culture” of Beacon Hill if elected governor through his private-sector experience, particularly in terms of competitiveness. He would keep the state’s current budget “where it is” but target waste, fraud and abuse to reduce the state’s 5.2 percent income tax to 5 percent.
McCormick estimated that waste and inefficiencies in the state budget are in the “high single digits,” with inefficiencies stemming from a lack of technology, specifically with regards to Electronic Benefit Transfer and the embattled Department of Children and Families. He also called for a top-to-bottom review of the budget from outside sources to track these inefficiencies.
McCormick said that his skill-set in the private sector would allow him to accomplish goals in ways that set him apart from others.
“I have a skill-set which is kind of quirky,” he said. “You work with all of these little companies, you take on the world, you take on all the big players and you go out there to solve a bunch of problems.
“I have risked everything in my life several times. I know what it’s like to take risk. I know what it’s like to take risk and fail. I also know what it’s like to take risk and have extraordinary outcomes,” he added. “Taking risk and also thinking longer term are definitely not the strong suits of people in government, because government doesn't have the competition that the private sector does.”
McCormick said that his platform was designed to target 52 percent of unenrolled – or independent – voters. The venture capitalist cited former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine as politicians who defined the “vision of success in public service.”
McCormick addressed several additional Massachusetts issues, saying he:
- Has a “real problem” with the state’s current incarceration rate. “It has to be jobs, not jails, and we have to intervene earlier.”
- Would “marry” the philanthropic community with the state to find ways to offer job incentives for students graduating from college.
- Is not “a huge fan” of casinos as an engine for job creation and, as an individual voter would vote to repeal the state’s casino law.
- Balked on saying whether he supported Washington and Colorado’s legalization of marijuana, taking a wait-and-see attitude.
- Said the state needed to be “very careful” about long-term indexing with regards to its minimum wage laws.
McCormick said that if he makes the November ballot, he is likely to take more votes away from Democrats than Republicans.
The Rappaport Roundtable series, made possible by the support of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, gives all nine gubernatorial candidates the opportunity to introduce themselves, make their case to the electorate, outline their priorities, and discuss pressing policy issues facing the Commonwealth today, in 2015 and beyond.