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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Friday, October 20, 2006

Taking its toll

Leave aside Kerry Healey's implausible (no make that laughable) suggestion that her plan to take down the tolls on the Mass Pike is not political (and ignore the fact the board only voted to consider it upon further study) and go to the heart of the matter.

This is a legally questionable proposal trotted out without a lot of thought -- particularly about how the state will make up for the lost revenue. And if I recall, that's one of the major complaints leveled at Deval Patrick last night -- how are you going to pay for things.

Healey's straight-faced insistence that "We have the money to pay off the debt, and we will pay off the debt. This is a certainty" flies in the face of Romney appointee Eric Kriss' own numbers show that eliminating toll takers only recoups about $40 million of a $114 million gap.

But as Steve Bailey points out (at least someone read Kriss' report), the gap is larger because no one has factored in the cost of deferred maintenance of the turnpike -- let alone the deteriorating state highway system. And no one is being honest about who will pay for that gap -- before our bridges crumble and our cars get swallowed in potholes.

I've said before that Mass Pike users are paying an unfair share of the Big Dig costs and require toll relief. The Romney-Healey administration apparently believes in the tooth fairy or magic dust. Hate to disappoint them, but the answer is that if the toll payers don't pay for it, the taxpayers will.

They reject calls for higher gas taxes -- even calling for a freeze is a shameless appeal for votes. They continue to call for a rollback of the income tax to 5 percent. How do we pay for all of this -- and education and public safety and health care and jobs and, well, you know the drill.

Patrick continues to be criticized for a lack of specificity over how he will pay for his proposals and -- with a little time to reflect beyond last night's instant analysis -- there is merit to that criticism.

But at least he is not calling for the reduction of elimination of revenue sources while promising the sun, moon and stars. Wish the same could be said about the "non-political" Healey proposal.

And oh yeah, why are you raising T fares at the same time you're calling for more people to pay for the roads too?

Consistency is the hobgoblin of GOP minds.


Blogger David said...

They do like their big lies don't they?

October 20, 2006 5:40 AM  

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