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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Pick your poison

I remember a gag as a kid -- "what would you prefer: a hot stake or a cold chop? Would you rather be burned at the stake or face the guillotine?"

That's the choice facing Massachusetts residents forced to select between a gas tax that covers the entire state or toll hikes that hit a select few very hard.

And the winner is ... the gas tax. I leave to others to decide of it's the stake or the chop.

What's fascinating about the result is that is exactly opposite of the support levels for the politicians on either side of the issue. And unlike the narrow six-point margin on the tolls-taxes issue, the popularity gap is really a chasm. And that may well be because of the size of their potential voting pool.

Gov. Deval Patrick, who has shied away from the broader statewide tax, should consider spending some of the political capital reflected in his 64-24 favorable/unfavorable spread.

House Speaker Sal DiMasi, who backs the gas tax as a fairer option, should be happy he doesn't have to run beyond his North End district.

Let's hope gas taxes are on the table when the long-awaited transportation overhaul and new Transportation Secretary Jim Aloisi, are formally trotted out next year.

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