At 64 years old, an affluent and successful businessman and philanthropist, Steve Grossman could hardly be faulted if he wanted to play golf and winter in Palm Beach rather than subject himself to media scrutiny and today’s increasingly acerbic political environment. Instead, he is running for MA Treasurer. He says he takes his inspiration from Oliver Wendell Holmes, who wrote, “Life is action and passion; therefore, it is required of a man that he should share the passion and action of the time, at peril of being judged not to have lived.”
And so Grossman wants to bring his 35 years experience as CEO of the 100-year-old Massachusetts Envelope Company to the position of state Treasurer, effectively the Chief Financial Officer of the Commonwealth. Massachusetts would be fortunate if he wins the post on November 2nd.
He is the only candidate for Treasurer who has had significant experience creating jobs, meeting payroll, generating economic development. He knows how to identify and implement best practices, and he wants to do that as Treasurer.
So, what would he do? Pension reform: moving beyond Deval Patrick’s legislative improvements to cap public employee pensions, raise the retirement age beyond 55, end spiking (jumping to a higher paying job solely to elevate the retirement pay to which one is entitled), and calculating that retirement pay based on a greater number of years than the three highest -income years now counted.
Economically targeted investments: using $100 million in state investments to challenge the biggest banks to create a half-billion-dollar fund for credit-worthy companies to borrow to create jobs, paying the loan back with interest. Said liquidity capital fund wouldn’t make the investment without significant return expected. Grossman insists he’d not get into picking winners and losers.
Lottery and gambling oversight: involving the Treasurer beyond simply helping to name a “gaming” commissioner, viewing the revenues from both lottery and gambling as a package; expanding lottery sales to other locations, like Logan Airport, where half the visitors are from out of state; spending five times as much ($5 million) on gambling addiction. (I wouldn’t mind if he put the “b” and “l” back into gaming and call it gambling, which it is.)
Financial literacy expansion: building on the Office of Financial Education to inform people about credit, debt and other pitfalls and opportunities.
Underlining all, and in contrast to some of his predecessors, a commitment to openness, transparency and accountability.
With all the excitement and interest at the top of the state ticket, it’s hard to get attention for jobs like Treasurer. But it’s worthwhile getting serious about the lower-level races. For better or worse, the Treasurer can have a significant impact on the fiscal health of the state, and it matters who’s in charge.
If he is elected, Grossman doesn’t see being Treasurer as a stepping stone to higher office. After years of helping others in political arena, he views the imprimateur of leadership, being validated by the people of the Commonwealth, having a bully pulpit and the opportunity to make changes that are desperately needed, as the capping off of his career.
Grossman’s grandfather, who started the family’s business and helped elect the late Boston Mayor Honey Fitz Fitzgerald, taught his grandson lessons about family, career and community. Steve Grossman has the potential – especially if he is an independent CFO who follows through on his promised program – to be a boon for Massachusetts.
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