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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Sunday, July 23, 2006

It's only money

Lost amid all the sound and fury over the Big Dig tragedy is the premiere of the gubernatorial candidates' television ads. Kerry Healey should probably keep it that way.

Buried in her classic GOP "we're overtaxed" message is a statement that demands a response as the Big Dig mess gets deeper.
Suspend the gas tax -- with a $1 billion dollar surplus, we can afford it.
There you go again, as the Gypper might have said. Gasoline tax dollars are allocated to the state's roads and bridges. Even if she wasn't comparing apples and oranges by linking the gasoline tax with the income tax, Healey obfuscates a major point. Someone is going to have to pay for these repairs.

We already know it won't be the feds -- they've capped their contributions. It's nice to think it will be Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff but that's way into the future, if ever. No, it will be you and me who fill up.

And any money that goes to the Big Dig does not go to the other crumbling roads, bridges and tunnels neglected by the Romney administration. (See, for example, Storrow Drive and the Longfellow Bridge. And every other city and town has its own horror stories.)

The "surplus" that comes from income, sales and other taxes, goes to pay for public safety, education, public health and local aid, among other things. The rollback to 5 percent is an entirely different question (and a bad idea in a state that still has not made up for the damaging cuts to those services, cuts that force property tax increases or the layoff of teachers).

To blithely equate the "surplus" with high gas prices and an election year call for a tax cut is Bushonomics at its worst. Let's see what the bailout for the Republican "managed" Big Dig project will be before we condemn every city and town to move their public swimming pools into the potholes.


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