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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, October 02, 2007

Getting it into gear

After a slow start, the Patrick administration appears to be painfully inching into a higher gear. Hopefully the Legislature won't stall the forward progress.

State transportation officials are reportedly working on a massive overhaul of the administrative structure as a first step to dealing with the $20 billion problem of deteriorating roads and bridges. The Herald reports the plan may even include the MBTA.

Unfortunately, "It is not imminent; the plans are still months away," one administration source told the Globe.

Unfortunate because it is likely to face a major roadblock in the Legislature, which consistently rejected similar proposals offered by Myth Romney and his predecessors to merge the Highway Department and the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority,

And unfortunate, because House Speaker Sal DiMasi appears to have an open calendar for the rest of this year and next year -- saying the House may not get around to dealing with the casino gambling bill until 2009.

In a response to a question about whether a casino bill would be debated this year or next (and shunned by virtually everyone except the Statehouse News Service (subscription required)), DiMasi offered:
"I don't really know. It appears that we might, depending on when the governor files it, and what we find out during the research, debate and analysis."
DiMasi is already on the record saying the casino frenzy is causing him stomach problems. Why he would want to prolong them is an interesting question -- although he did offer some thoughts about his siting concerns in the safe confines of his predecessor's radio show on WRKO.

The rumblings of long-time observers that Deval Patrick has taken far too long to get his administration's priorities in order (the casino bill is still a week or more away) appear to be hitting up hard against a legislative schedule that hasn't been overly taxing (physically that is) on lawmakers.

The DiMasi House took until its second year to really tackle the health care bill and we are now six weeks or so away from the end of the first year of this term with very little beyond the budget to show for it except for the defeat of the gay marriage amendment.

A test of wills between the speaker and the governor wouldn't be in the best interests of anyone. But we won't really know who is the unmovable force and who is the irresistible object until Patrick's team offers some specifics.

Here's a vote for more late nights in both wings of the Statehouse.

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