Massachusetts gubernatorial candidates, Republican Charlie Baker and Democrat Massachusetts Attorney Gen. Martha Coakley, went head to head Tuesday during the second debate this week, their final gubernatorial debate before the Nov. 4 election.
One week before Election Day, Coakley and Baker debated on issues including the response to Ebola, immigration and tax incentives, at WCVB-TV studios in Needham. The debate was moderated by WCVB’s Janet Wu, alongside WHDH’s Andy Hiller and WBUR’s Bob Oakes.
On the topic of the Ebola quarantine, Baker said he has been disappointed by the lack of public conversation from the Commonwealth about the virus.
“There should be some regular conversation with the voters about what actually is being done,” he said. “I am assuming that federal agencies are talking to state governments, which are talking to local governments and health care providers about preparation and prevention with regard to this. I’m assuming the folks in Massachusetts are doing drills. I’m assuming they’re making sure they have the equipment they need to have in place to deal with this.”
Coakley said there must be a balance between getting people educated and being aware of the threat of public safety.
“We have the very great resources here in our medical community and the communication with them to determine what do we need to do,” she said. “My understanding right now is that flights are not coming into Boston from any of the source areas here, but I do think we need to continue to watch and be ready should that be a risk here.”
Regarding undocumented immigrants, Coakley said she has been disappointed by the lack of federal action to provide for them, including undocumented immigrants, their kids and their families, which has caused states to step in and address the issue.
Baker reiterated that he does not support providing drivers license to people who are undocumented because, “I don’t see how you can document somebody who’s undocumented.”
“The Commonwealth…like many other states, ended up dealing with the consequences of the broken immigration policy at the federal level,” he said. “The fact that we don’t have clarity around immigration policy in this country, I think is a huge problem and it should be solved.”
Baker’s job plan focuses on providing incentives for employers, providing limited tax cuts on small businesses and a reduction in the registration fee for limited liability companies, he said. He said he wants to incentivize employers to hire veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Research has determined that 70 percent of jobs are going to require more than a high-school degree by 2020, Coakley said. She agreed with Baker’s belief that there is a need to provide incentives and limited tax cuts, but emphasized the need for more to be done to create jobs and ultimately improve the environment.
“I believe that we are doing well,” she said. “Our economy is turning around at twice the rate of most states. The real issue is providing the workforce and the investment in our people and our kids so that we’ll have the skills available.”
Baker choked up while talking about job stability, sharing a story about a fisherman he met while campaigning. He said the Commonwealth needs to do a better job of standing up for people who are unable to take advantage of higher education and job opportunities.
In an effort to end the evening on a lighter note, the moderators last asked the candidates what their preference is for late-night television, in which both Baker and Coakley agreed on their love of “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.”
Polls will open Tuesday at 7 a.m.