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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

No Newt Axes

One of the better word games in politics was this tricky little shift of capital letters that described how liberals felt about the Republican Congress' insistence on accepting all tax cuts during the reign of the former House Speaker -- and what that insistence meant for programs near and dear to them.

The words seem worth recalling today as Massachusetts House Speaker Sal DiMasi takes the Patrick administration's proposal to close corporate tax loopholes off the table.

It also seems worth recalling some of my favorite words -- how are you going to pay for what DiMasi says will be a House budget that contains more aid for schools?

The Speaker is looking at the rainy day fund, and surprisingly, Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation head Michael Widmer agrees. But I'm with Widmer's old position that the rain isn't falling hard enough to justify tapping the reserves when property owners are most in need of relief.

The change in Senate leadership will make this a very interesting year. The Senate Ways and Means Committee is already well into its work, even as it readies to see Chairwoman Terry Murray move upstairs to the President's office.

Because Murray has been press-shy, no one really knows if she shares outgoing President Robert Travaglini's tax concerns.

But whoever moves into her old office will inherit a staff and a document that she has already shaped. That chairman -- and rumors suggest it will be Steven Panagiotakis of Lowell -- will take a back seat even as he sits at the conference table with his House counterpart Robert DeLeo.

If Murray differs with DiMasi, we may be looking at a tough budget season, bringing back bad memories of Tom Finneran and Tom Birmingham negotiating well into the fall. And axes that fall somewhere.

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