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editorial | endorsement

Deb Goldberg for state treasurer

Deb Goldberg.
Deb Goldberg.(John Tlumacki/Globe staff/file 2014)

The Massachusetts state treasurer could stay busy with the basic responsibilities of managing the state’s cash flow and debt. But the holder of the office has a much broader portfolio, overseeing the state school building fund, lottery, alcoholic beverages commission, public pension fund, state retirement board, and other duties. The position demands an executive with high energy and wide-ranging experience. That candidate is Democrat Deb Goldberg.

Goldberg, whose family used to own Stop & Shop, learned the grocery business from the ground up. Unlike her opponent, Republican Mike Heffernan, she has held elected office on the local level, gaining valuable political and fiscal experience.

Serving six years on the Board of Selectmen in Brookline gave Goldberg pragmatic experience, which would serve her well when keeping tabs on school construction costs. She also has an appreciation for the impact that Lottery proceeds can have on police, fire, and other basic services, and vows to streamline the process further by fixing the outmoded technology used by lottery vendors.

Whoever becomes the next treasurer will follow a solid term by outgoing state treasurer Steve Grossman. He set a high bar for transparency, cash flow management, and return on investments in the state pension fund, which rose by 17.6 percent in the fiscal year that ended June 30. Goldberg pledges to continue that tradition of excellence with her plan to create a nonpartisan fiscal agency to predict the cost of new legislation and provide multiyear budget forecasts. She also promises to publicize the budgets of all departments connected to the treasurer’s office, reasoning that transparency must start with her.

Heffernan, of Wellesley, has more than 25 years of experience in the financial industry. He is a bold candidate who vows to block the issuance of debt for the $1 billion expansion of the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, which he believes would be built on “unrealistic projections” of convention attendance and tax revenues. Goldberg views the convention center upgrade as a significant economic driver.

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The candidates also differ significantly on casinos. Goldberg favors a ballot question to repeal the state casino law, which would allow up to three destination casinos and a slots parlor. Heffernan supports building casinos in economically disadvantaged areas of the state. Ian Jackson of the Green-Rainbow party is also on the ballot.

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Consumer education has become an important part of the treasurer’s role in recent years, which is especially valuable for low-income residents who are most likely to be overwhelmed by debt or foreclosure. Heffernan’s knowledge of the securities markets isn’t likely to be much of an advantage in this effort. Goldberg offers a formidable background in marketing and promotion that could lead to effective financial literacy programs in a state with one of the nation’s largest income gaps between rich and poor. She is the better-rounded candidate, and the best choice to be the next state treasurer.