Thursday, October 21, 2010
Democratic incumbent Joyce counting on facts to speak for themselves

While it may not be the ideal climate — political or otherwise — for a seven-time incumbent Democrat to be seeking reelection against a Republican newcomer with no ties to Beacon Hill, state Senator Brian A. Joyce remains confident and hopeful that his 12-year record of service to the district will be more than enough to survive whatever anti-establishment rhetoric gets tossed about in the weeks leading up to the election on November 2.
After all, “facts are stubborn things,” said Joyce, referring to a famous quote by John Adams.
And the facts, according to Joyce, paint a far different picture of the direction the state is heading in than the one often painted by his political opponents on the right, which include his opponent in the state Senate race, Canton Selectman Bob Burr.
While he readily admits that the state “still has a long way to go” in its economic recovery, Joyce said the trend has been decidedly positive over the past several months, in part because of the efforts of legislative leaders like himself, who pushed for targeted investments in key industries that are already beginning to pay dividends in the form of new jobs.
Citing success stories such as the Canton-based biotech firm Organogenesis, Joyce said the state has added 65,000 jobs so far this year, and it recently ranked fifth overall in CNBC’s “Top States for Business 2010” after ranking 15th just two years earlier.
“The fact is our economy is out-producing virtually every other state,” noted Joyce in a recent telephone interview. “Is there room for improvement? Absolutely, but the facts are irrefutable.”
Joyce said he and his colleagues also managed to “successfully address the most extraordinary fiscal challenges ever faced in state government” — challenges that included the most severe two-year decline in tax revenues and a “staggering” $2 billion in painful budget cuts.
They accomplished this, he said, by prudently “socking away” money in the state’s rainy day fund over a period of several years, and as a result, Massachusetts was one of the few states to maintain its AA bond rating. “We were better prepared than any other state in the union for this economic downturn,” Joyce said.
Meanwhile, despite the severity of the cuts, Joyce said he helped secure the “highest level of education funding in the state’s history,” and because of that investment, Massachusetts children now rank first in the nation in several standardized testing measurements and first in the world in at least one measure of science performance.
Partly for that reason, Joyce plans to vote no on Question 3, which proposes a rollback of the sales tax from 6.25 percent to 3 percent, as he believes that such a measure would result in devastating cuts to local aid, forcing communities to either cut essential services or pass further property tax increases.
Pointing to a Mass Taxpayers Foundation report that predicts the rollback would result in across-the-board cuts of 30 percent, Joyce said the town of Canton would stand to lose more than $1.2 million in state aid while the schools would lose roughly $1 million — this, he said, after the town experienced a 40 percent increase in state aid since Burr became a selectman.
Joyce said he went 12 years in the state Senate before approving his first tax increase and considers himself “fiscally moderate to conservative.” However, when it comes to Question 3, he could not disagree more with his opponent.
“I’m fiscally prudent,” he said, “but I’m not Pavlov’s dog that will immediately jump when anyone says, ‘Let’s cut taxes.’”
Joyce said he also disagrees with Burr on Question 1, which proposes to restore the sales tax exemption for alcohol. Joyce, who opposes the measure, said it would not only give alcohol the same exemption as food or clothing; it would also eliminate desperately needed funding for the treatment of alcohol and drug abuse.
As for Question 2, which proposes a repeal of Chapter 40B, Joyce said he will join the four candidates for governor as well as the Catholic Church in voting no — not because he believes the law is perfect, but because a repeal would result in the loss of $1 billion annually in economic activity, including the loss of thousands of jobs in construction and related industries.
“It’s easy to play to the cheap seats and talk about greedy developers’ profits,” he said, “but how can I vote, in difficult economic times, to take away much-needed work?”
Joyce said 40B also promotes the construction of “typically well-equipped, relatively high-end condominiums that can be purchased at a discounted rate,” which is the type of housing that helps attract and retain young college graduates who are critical to the state’s economic success.
Besides his position on the three ballot questions and his track record of fiscal responsibility, Joyce said he has also worked very hard to create jobs within his district, culminating in his “dogged efforts” to help Organogenesis not only stay in Canton, but greatly expand its operations while more than doubling its local workforce.
In addition, Joyce said he has worked to revitalize various downtown areas throughout the district, including in Canton where there was a significant state investment, and he is currently working to “get government out of areas where they have no expertise,” such as the state-owned Ponkapoag golf course, which he is hoping will be leased to the town of Canton or to a private company.
Without question, Joyce said he believes he has given Canton a “very strong voice” over the past 12 years, and he has been encouraged and touched by all the support he has received, both this year and in the past.
“I never forget who I work for,” he said, “and if given the opportunity, I will continue to give my heart and my industry to the residents in Canton and throughout the district for another two years.”