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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Breaking some eggs

Critics of the Patrick administration are out in force this morning.

The Globe's page One notes how the special commission appointed to look at the state's business taxes is divided on a potential recommendation. The Herald, somewhere after a major splash on Hillary Clinton's makeup artist, says Deval Patrick is "railroading" the process.

Meanwhile, back on the editorial page, the Globe joins the tut-tut chorus in questioning Patrick's choice of MCAS foe Ruth Kaplan for the state Board of Education, worrying there is no "cogent" educational philosophy between that pick and his call for a "cradle to career" education plan.

But instead of railroads and tut-tuts, I see an administration that, after a fitful and slow start, is beginning to pick up steam. Isn't that a lot better than a disengaged plutocrat, who took no salary and offered exactly nothing in return as he focused on his own ambitions instead of those of the people who elected him?

The draft says the commission appointed by Patrick and legislators supports a change that could generate up to $100 million next year by barring corporations from registering as one kind of company on federal tax forms and as another on state forms.

I'm no expert on these things, but my hunch is the report is a tactic common in corporate arenas, summarizing what it believes is the majority opinion, with the authors striving to build consensus to that view during debate.

Patrick supports the tax change. The Legislature does not. The loudest private critic is Mike Widmer of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, who was appointed by House Speaker Sal DiMasi, the leading elected critic.

Whoever leaked the report was looking for leverage by taking the debate public early rather than wait for a consensus. That's undoubtedly because a Globe poll in April found that a small majority supports the Patrick concept. And that's why Widmer and some business allies opposed to the tax change are steamed.

But what's so bad about a little discussion and a little sunlight? If leaking the draft moves a few votes -- toward a position favored by a small majority of voters -- who wins? It's called hardball, but it's practiced in every other arena of life.

And the same applies to the Kaplan appointment to the Board of Education. Why does it seem as an end to civilization as we know it because one person who is not enamored of MCAS is in a position to discuss its flaws?

Isn't it just possible that the conversation that will result from her presence on the board will lead to strengthening education?

Is one person so powerful that they can turn around a ship by themselves?

Patrick is shaking up a state government that was moribund as a result of four years of neglect as Mitt Romney focused his sights anywhere but the Commonwealth. His tactics might seem beyond standard operating procedures, but he was elected to bring about change.

By igniting debate -- in meeting rooms, front pages and editorial pages -- he is doing just that. Taxpayers, homeowners, children and everyone else will be better off in the end as a result of the debate.

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Blogger MassParent said...

What you said.

June 13, 2007 3:15 PM  

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