Economy in the Commonwealth

Reports on public transportation (specifically, the breakdown of public transit), appear in local and regional news on a regular basis. Most people see economic growth as the number one reason to invest in our transportation system. A comprehensive public transit system for all communities would include improvements to our existing transit infrastructure, as well as expanding smart, transit-oriented development that’s affordable.

Transportation infrastructure isn’t just about economic growth, it also overlaps with our affordable housing, education, climate change, and energy goals and we should seek to adopt the holistic model of “complete streets” when considering what those community goals should be.

Employers argue that a strong economy doesn’t exist without a strong workforce and see investment in vocational technical education as a key to keeping the Commonwealth competitive.

We need an energy infrastructure that reduces pollution, promotes clean energy, reduces greenhouse gasses, and protects our natural climate and environment.

We need sustainable and holistic practices for healthy natural and built environments that provide ample open space and reduced pollution, improving our communities and nurturing all of our residents.

Affordable housing is a difficult, multi-layered issue, too. We have an increasing, aging population. Seniors want to maintain social relationships and connections in their communities to maintain quality of life and there is limited housing, limited affordable housing, available for downsizing. Luxury condos are being built with incentives for builders, not for people.

We should all be concerned about the mounting crisis in privatization and corporatization of, not only our public transit system, but of our public education system, as well.

For many years already we have all seen a crisis in healthcare (and every developed nation — and poor countries — are working toward national healthcare, so why aren’t we?) Solving it is part of the solution to the Commonwealth’s economic problems, in addition to better healthcare for all.

We want flexible jobs? An innovative economy? Address income inequality? We are squandering those opportunities if we don’t address transportation, affordable housing, public education, and healthcare now.

We have choices and the decisions that need to be made need to be made together. If it’s important, let’s make a plan and fund it. In my experience, when people get together, the best ideas come forward, so let’s keep these issues front and center in this and the governor’s race and see who has the vision and is willing to work with us to achieve it.

Photo credit: MassBudget and Policy Center