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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, January 24, 2008

The cost of inaction...

One thing we can all agree is on that the phone company is not going to win any Massachusetts popularity contests.

Gov. Deval Patrick's call for the phone company to pay its fair share of property taxes got the loudest cheer of the night during his first State of the State address.

Patrick displayed the type of rhetoric to catapulted him to the Corner Office -- although this time he may have been a little too self-referential in equating his rise from poverty to the challenges that await others in Massachusetts.

But not surprisingly, Patrick crafted a solid speech, offering selected examples of where Massachusetts was "on the move." I will leave it to the paid reporters and analysts to contrast rhetoric to reality (for now). But to the casual viewer, Patrick could very well have dispelled the notion that Massachusetts spent the first year of his watch stagnating.

That laundry list was also an effective counterpoint to the second half of his address -- where he laid out the "cost of inaction" and the required sacrifices he is looking for in his own budget, state employee paychecks and from corporations he has spent the past year in fruitless efforts to pay what he says is their fair share of the cost of government.

There was only a cursory mention of the elephant in the room -- casino gambling and its revenues.

The camera angle for his speech was appropriate -- focusing on House Speaker Sal DiMasi and never catching a glimpse of Senate President Terry Murray. That's much the way the first year played out -- DiMasi respectful (for the most part) in public while often sitting on his hands; Murray out of the picture.

As expected Patrick laid down a gauntlet to DiMasi and Murray. The spin also started early, with some Patrick opponents blaming the new-to-politics governor of not being cooperative.

The cards are now on the table -- a budget plan and a matching vision of words. How his challenge plays out in the days and weeks ahead will truly determine whether Massachusetts is "on the move." Or on the road to nowhere.

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