When asked — on Boston Public Radio — how he’ll vote in the upcoming Nov. 8 election, Gov. Charlie Baker was all over the place, and a bit of a dour tease.
Baker said that he will likely vote against Ballot Question 2, which seeks to require that dental insurers spend a set amount of their premiums on patient care. The former health insurance executive said he sees too many unknowns.
If Question 2 passes, Massachusetts would require dental insurers to spend at least 83% of every dollar they get in premiums on patient care or quality improvements instead of administrative expenses. Similar standards are in place for medical insurance, but Massachusetts would be the first state to impose such a requirement on dental plans.
Baker said he’d like to see the next governor and Legislature do a study on the concept “and then come back and tell people what it actually means.”
The governor said he plans to vote for the liquor-licensing reforms offered in Ballot Question 3, which would gradually double the number of liquor licenses any one retailer can hold. Because the proposal would also cap how many licenses for hard liquor one store chain could hold, it’s mostly focused on expanding possible beer and wine sales.
Baker said he likes that the question keeps ultimate control over liquor licenses at the local level. He described it as “an attempt to create some compromise between the mom-and-pops and the big out-of-state chains,” competitors who have long been at odds in the realm of alcohol sales.
Baker has previously made known his opposition to adding a higher tax on income over $1 million, as proposed in Ballot Question 1 on November’s ballot. He’s also said he would vote to repeal the new state law making people without legal immigration status eligible to apply for driver’s licenses — a bill he vetoed the first time lawmakers sent it to him.
The Republican governor has largely stayed out of statewide races this cycle, except for his endorsement of GOP auditor hopeful Anthony Amore. He continued that streak on Thursday, declining to say if he’d choose either Attorney General Maura Healey or former state Rep. Geoff Diehl to succeed him.
Healey, the Democratic nominee, has maintained a strong polling lead over Republican candidate Diehl.
One down-ballot race where Baker has weighed in is the contest for Bristol County sheriff, in which he’s backing Republican incumbent Sheriff Tom Hodgson over his Democratic challenger, Attleboro Mayor Paul Heroux. Hodgson, like Diehl, is more closely aligned with the policies of former President Donald Trump than Baker is, who blanked his 2020 presidential ballot.
“I've known Sheriff Hodgson for a long time, and there are lots of things that he and I don't agree on, but one of the things I appreciate about the sheriff is he tells me what he thinks when I don't agree with him,” Baker said. “I tell him what I think when I don't agree with him, and then we both have the ability to move on.”
Baker said the thing that bothers him most about present-day politics is that “if you don't agree with people 100% of the time, then you simply don't talk to them.”
“Even if you have jobs that require you to collaborate, you don't talk to them, you don't engage with them, and you dismiss them,” he said.
The outgoing governor said he doesn't yet know what he’ll do after leaving office in January, other than stepping into a new role as first-time grandfather in February. His oldest son, Charlie, and daughter-in-law are expecting a baby.