Gubernatorial candidates discuss economic policy, housing and the environment

Moderator Simón Rios, a reporter for WBUR, posed the same questions to both candidates, who also heard from members of the public about their experiences buying homes or running small businesses in Massachusetts.

Diehl, who is backed by former President Donald J. Trump, came first.

Asked about gentrification and displacement, Diehl said housing affordability is the state’s top concern.

“The best way to make sure people can afford a home is to provide a robust economy with jobs and wage growth,” said Diehl, who has pledged to hire new businesses to move to Massachusetts and to support those that are established.

He said he also supports community land trusts and Gov. Charlie Baker’s new rules aimed at increasing the number of multi-family dwellings in communities served by the MBTA.

Rios asked Diehl if he supports expanding a program that offers a 50% tax credit to donors who contribute to community development corporations. The program offers up to $10 million this year and is scheduled to end in 2025, when the cap will increase to $12 million, according to a state Department of Revenue regulation.

Diehl said he would extend the program, but he’s “not necessarily sure” he would make the tax credit permanent. He said he would keep the cap in place for now as the economy faces “significant headwinds”.

Asked about his plans to make homes less dependent on fossil fuels, Diehl said he believes in using natural gas as a “plug” while the region’s renewable energy power grid expands.

“I’m going to keep all energy options on the table until we can make that transition, but I certainly have the same goal of trying to make sure we get as much renewable generation as possible.” he declared.

Diehl, who owns a performing arts school in Hanson with his wife, answered a question about how he would help small business owners. He said he wishes state lawmakers had dedicated more federal pandemic relief funds and state tax surpluses to help small businesses and the unemployed.

Raytheon Technologies’ decision to move its global headquarters from Waltham to Arlington, Va., and arms maker Smith & Wesson’s upcoming move from Springfield to Maryville, Tennessee, will impact the state’s economy. , said Diehl.

“We need to replace these businesses with growing small businesses emerging in our state across the Commonwealth,” he said.

Healey, like Diehl, said affordable housing is the state’s top concern.

His plans include expanding the state’s emergency housing assistance and housing voucher programs, establishing a child tax credit that would help more than 700,000 families, and investing in efforts to preserve existing housing.

Healey said she supports extending a contribution tax credit to community development corporations and lifting the spending cap.

“It turned out to be such a sensible and worthwhile investment,” she said.

On the environment, Healey said she would convene a council focused on environmental justice, dedicate federal funds to pandemic relief and infrastructure to support communities that are disproportionately impacted by pollution, and invest in clean energy for social housing, schools and municipal buildings.

“A lot of things are possible,” she said.

For small businesses, Healey said it will continue Baker’s programs to support this sector.

“Our small businesses are the cornerstone of the community. They provide the fabric to the community,” she said. “They are a huge engine and economic driver. Second, our small businesses definitely need more support.

Healey said she would also introduce an office dedicated to helping small businesses build relationships with banks and take advantage of government assistance like the federal Paycheck Protection Program that was offered earlier in the pandemic. . Some small businesses struggled with this program, she said, because they couldn’t afford legal or accounting expertise to guide them through the process.

She also proposed a program that would provide free trade education or job training to unemployed residents who are at least 25 years old.

Healey said she would seek to help businesses owned by women and people of color gain access to capital.

“It’s about capital, and either you have it or you don’t,” she said.

If elected, both candidates said they would prioritize contributions from community development corporations and meet regularly with their representatives.

Laura Crimeldi can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @lauracrimaldi.

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