- Written by Administrator
- Published: 19 January 2008
The most pointed moments in the debate came when Webster accused Hanley of "lying about [his] record," and Hanley pounded Webster on his record of creating and sponsoring legislation.
"When I look at his record, I question, what has he done?" said Hanley.
Hanley came out firing in his opening statements, pointing out that Webster has a high percentage of voting along with Governor Romney.
"I think we can do better," he said. "What has Dan Webster done for you?"
The two candidates differed on several issues, including health care, campaign funding, and the tax rollback.
Webster said he believes the income tax rollback, approved by the voters in 2000, should be immediately enacted.
"Time and time again the voters asked the legislation to act, and they don't," he said, pointing out the state is looking at a surplus. "We cannot continually spend your hard earned money."
Hanley said that he was in favor or the gradual roll back proposed by former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris Gabrieli. In that plan, the tax rate would gradually be reduced as 40 percent of revenue would be dedicated to reducing the cut.
However, he pointed out that fees for things like the Registry of Motor Vehicles and the Registry of deeds have increased.
"What happens to your real estate taxes?," he said. "One thing government always seems to forget is that there will always be rainy days."
He also said it was "highly ironic" that local aid was starting to come back to the towns in an election year.
"We can get a better return on the investment of that surplus money," he added.
Webster said the cut was a "matter or prioritizing."
"The bottom line is that overall the [surplus] numbers are up significantly," he said when asked by a reporter if he would still be for the roll back if the surplus turns out to be less than previously thought.
Hanley also slammed Webster for voting against the bill that would give everyone in Massachusetts health care coverage.
"There is no conceivable defense [for voting no]" he said.
Hanley also pointed out he is a small business owner, and he has provided health care for his employees even though he is technically exempt. The law allows small businesses with less than XX number of employees to opt out of providing health care coverage.
He also called the penalty businesses have to pay for not providing coverage "ludicrous" and added, "the penalty should be ten times that for people who don't participate in the program."
Webster called the fine a "tax on businesses."
"We're driving businesses out of the Commonwealth," he said. "If we're not putting people to work, we're not generating income taxes."
One the issue of gay marriage both candidates said they believe the people should vote.
Although "My marriage is not threatened by gay men or women," according to Hanley, he said gay marriage opponents have gone through a due process and that people should be allowed to vote.
"I think the vote should have been taken," he said. "Let the people speak."
Webster had even stronger words on the subject.
"What the legislature has done is absolutely wrong," he said. "I think it's an insult to the people of Massachusetts."
He said he supports social benefits for non-traditional couples, but added: "I don't think it's necessary to amend the constitution."
Webster is one of a small Republican minority in the Massachusetts Legislature. Hanley often called his opponent "extreme" and pointed to a number of times Webster was one of only two or three representatives to vote against a bill.
"I believe my opponent has been an antagonist," Hanley said. "When you're in the supermajority like that, what constituency do you serve?"
Webster said he believes the Republican party has done a good job of speaking to the unenrolled and independent voters in the state, but admitted the Republicans have done a "terrible job" fielding candidates.
"I think the voters do recognize that the legislature is overwhelmingly Democratic," he said.
Webster also hit Hanley on the fact that a large percentage of his campaign donations came from outside the district ï¿½ and a substantial chunk also came from unions and political action campaigns.
"Quincy doesn't need a fourth state representative," he said. Hanley served briefly as a city councilor in Quincy before moving to Pembroke, and much of his financial support so far came from that city.
Webster also said the idea that Hanley won't be beholden to his donors is dead wrong.
"The day he walks into the Statehouse, he will have special interests coming to knock on his door ï¿½ the Democratic leadership is in the pocket of the special interests."
Webster also disputed Hanley's charge of ineffectiveness by saying that, since he was in the minority, he has been appointed quickly to powerful committees like Ways and Means, where Hanley as a Democrat would have to "pay his dues" before getting such a seat.
Hanley defended the union donations, pointing out that although a donation will often come from a union in Boston, the worker who requested the donation lives in the district.
Although the exchanges throughout the evening were heated, the candidates saved the biggest fireworks for the closing statements.
Webster came out strong in defense of his record, especially on Melanie's Law.
"He blatantly lied about my record on Melanie's Bill," he said. "If he doesn't tell you the truth about my record, is he going to tell you the truth if he's elected state representative?"
He stressed his record as a fiscal conservative and repeated his theme that "government cannot be all things to all people."
Hanley hammered home his theme that Webster has not been effective enough.
"When I ask you what legislation have you authored, I don't get an answer," he said.
He cited statistics saying Webster had a low voting record on education issues and legislation that affects working families."We can do better," he said. "I have proved myself to be a tireless advocate for those who have put their trust in me."