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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, March 29, 2007

Read my lips...

It's not news if you ride the MBTA, drive over potholes formerly known as roads or still hold your breath as you race through the Turnpike airport tunnels, but the price for 16 years of neglect of our transportation infrastructure is coming into plain sight.

And even as they spell out a situation so dire that the Massachusetts Highway Department is paying salaries through money raised by a bond issue, the commission members charged with drafting the report Mitt Romney didn't want you to know about faced the cold reality in talking points obtained by the Globe:
"Please remember, even a discussion about the gas tax still gets us a headline we don't want, so try to deflect the question entirely and just focus on needs ... and not get into a debate about tax increases."
A spokesman for transportation secretary Bernard Cohen heeded those words when he declined to talk about gas tax and toll hikes.

The something for nothing mentality that marks the Republican philosophy on governing has never been more fully on display here. And yet Myth Romney is taking heat from the conservatives he's flip-flopping to woo for "overtaxing" us.

I've expounded long and loud about the MBTA's policy of jacking up fares and alienating customers while reducing frequency and quality of service. The shamefulness of Romney's effort to eliminate turnpike tolls has also been a frequent topic.

Yet here we are with a projected $15 billion to $19 billion transportation shortfall over the next 20 years, every state transportation agency running a deficit and resorting to short-term fixes and obvious answers no one wants to address.

With the price of gasoline shooting back up without any apparent good reason in advance of the summer driving season and MBTA service just as mediocre at the higher fares no one wants to talk about higher taxes, fares or highway tolls.

Talk radio and the wrong side of the blogosphere will be awash in outrage today at the thought of shelling out more for less -- but we are in this position because that's the same tired old message they've been peddling for years. They'd rather talk about Deval Patrick's latest "screw-up" than face the fact they are part of the problem and not part of the solution.

But it's time to face reality. You wonder why people are leaving this state in droves? High housing costs, generating high property taxes that don't manage to cover the shortfall left by inadequate state funding for basic services caused by an unfair tax structure. You don't get what you pay for (except when you actually elect pandering flip-floppers.)

Read my lips: it's time for a fair and equitable tax and fee structure. Not as simplistic as George H.W. Bush, but just as much to the point.

UPDATE: Kudos to the Herald's Casey Ross for breaking out some of the reasons for the financial problems plaguing the transportation infrastructure. Anyone who has ever dealt with a surly T operator ot toll taker knows personnel is part of the problem that needs to be fixed. But why wasn't this in the dead tree edition, where more people would see it without trolling the blogs.

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Blogger Ryan Adams said...

5 cents on the dollar won't be felt too stronglye and would bring us to around where many other northeastern states are already at, so I think that's a fair solution. That probably wouldn't solve the 20 billion dollar problem, but would at least contribute to a solution. Cutting costs by merging and rearranging certain agencies could make sense, too. We could always push our powerful us congressional delegation to lobby for a little help too.

March 29, 2007 8:05 AM  
Blogger Outraged Liberal said...

All true, but it requires a real change in our something for nothing culture and that's what I fear we don't have the resolve to change.

March 29, 2007 8:10 AM  

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