That pesky elephant is back in the room
We know know Tim Cahill is opposed to "Taj Mahal" schools as well as the proposal to have the Commonwealth co-sign the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority's latest debt sale.
OK, the treasurer has kindly informed us that "off-the-shelf" designs may be one way to achieve the noble goal of preventing more disastrous school construction projects like Newton North High School.
But he was less than forthcoming, again, with any solutions to the problems facing the Pike during a Statehouse hearing yesterday.
He called for unspecified changes to be imposed on Turnpike Authority operations if the deal moves forward.Cahill has been in office for six years -- and his job is to make sure the books balance. The Pike has been a problem throughout those years, but I don't seem to recall him speaking up as frequently or as loudly as he is now.
Why the absence of firm suggestions? He certainly has an interesting idea for the school building problem.
Could the answer be that he doesn't want to take the heat for the remedy?
Another critic, Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation president Mike Widmer spelled it out in simple English.
"This is one of the most irresponsible proposals I have seen seriously considered by the Legislature in my 16 years," said Widmer, whose organization is backed by business. "We are just heading off a cliff, Thelma and Louise, with a smile on our face."
Widmer called for a gas-tax increase and new tolls to help the Turnpike Authority meet the terms of its Big Dig-related debts.
Cahill preferred a less direct approach:
“We cannot allow ourselves to operate with a blank-checkbook mentality,” Cahill said, adding the plan will hurt the state’s credit rating.Widmer was part of a special panel assessing state transportation infrastructure needs and has been on the record about the need for taxes for awhile.
The Patrick Administration has also been shying away from the tax proposal -- they recognize the income tax repeal question on the November ballot makes it an even worse subject to discuss right now. So no Profile in Courage Awards there either.
But Treasurer Tim is playing a more cynical game, calling for decisive action while avoiding any mention of what that alternative might be.
No wonder Turnpike boss Alan LeBovidge snarked:
“Maybe I missed it. They all said they had other options, but there were none that I wrote down.”While LeBovidge should have jotted down Widmer's suggestion, the sarcasm still seems appropriate directed at Cahill and Sen. Marc Montigny, who said "It is the worst of both worlds for the taxpayer and the toll payer" and apparently left it at that.
This button's for you Tim. You can share it if you like.