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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Let the campaign begin

While Mitt Romney has his eyes on a different prize, he has officially launched the 2006 gubernatorial campaign season with a bouquet for Kerry Healey. It will be interesting how the GOP manages to balance two very conflicting campaign goals.

A 17 percent local aid increase is a VERY good thing. Cities and towns have been starved for the last few years -- even more so than some other parts of government. Just check out the reports by the "liberal" Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center or the "non-partisan" or business-financed Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation to see issues facing state and local governments because of the slow recovery to the recession and the lack of cash.

Cities and towns have responded in two ways to the pinch they face: cutting basic services like police, fire and education and raising property taxes. They are the living embodiment of the fallacy of the anti-tax message that you can get something for nothing.

And that's where things will get interesting. We already know both Healey and Tom Reilly support rolling back the income tax to 5 percent. Deval Patrick wisely notes that previous income tax cuts have helped to put cities and towns in the soup.

The pledge of more local aid (and the modicum of property tax relief that will come with it) cannot survive the pledge to rollback the income tax and still meet needs in education, health care and public safety.

How those contradictions will play out are certainly among the most interesting tests facing the candidates as they start to hit the trail in earnest.

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