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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Toll fight

Wow, "secret plans for a massive toll increase on Boston commuters to pay for the dismantling of Western Turnpike tolls, an increase that the administration had hidden from the public." Is this Tollgate?

The partisan sniping between the Romney administration and Inspector General Greg Sullivan would be quite amusing -- if the stakes were not so significant.

It started with the characterization by Sullivan's office about the ultimate result of the Romney-Healey pre-election pander of tearing down toll booths.

Common sense favors Sullivan because anyone who can count (which leaves out most Republican budget makers) can figure that losing $114 million in tolls (minus some salary costs) is not going to pay for the bloated not-on-time, grotesquely over budget Big Dig.

So it was a bit over the top when Romney Administration and Finance Secretary Tom Trimarco leveled this blast at Sullivan:
"Your letter can only be viewed as an insincere, politically-motivated attempt to protect a bloated and inefficient authority and the patronage jobs that are involved."
Sullivan spokesman Jack McCarthy, he of the "secret plans" quote fires back that Romney continues to:
"hide key details of this plan by failing to release the information we asked them to make public in our letter. That is an embarrassment."
The Globe reports one scenario presented to the board says that eliminating the western tolls would increase the $5 toll on a trip from Logan International Airport to Weston by as much as $1.50. Tolls are scheduled to go up by 25 cents on the Boston extension of the turnpike and by 50 cents in the harbor tunnels in 2008. But Trimarco said there would likely be only a 15-cent increase at the Weston and Allston-Brighton tollbooths.

I guess there is a dime's worth of difference here.

But isn't it interesting Trimarco didn't focus on the larger increases? I guess because fees are not taxes, especially when you levy them on people as you head out the door in the hope of working your magic in Washington.

Mitt you've taken more than your toll on us. Just leave.

UPDATE: Steve Bailey offers a better view of the Romney-Healey toll flim-flam here.


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