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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Friday, February 20, 2009

At last! (Maybe)

After a gestation period longer than an elephant, Deval Patrick is ready to announce his call for a 19-cent hike in the gasoline tax and a plan for overhauling the state's decrepit transportation system.


The Hamlet-like performance on how best to address the state's crumbling roads and bridges and overburdened and underperformed mass transit system is scheduled to end with an announcement today. The trial balloon of a 27 to 29-cent gas tax hike has been lowered.

The Globe reports the Patrick plan would reorganize roads, public transit and airports under the secretary of transportation. The turnpike authority would disappear, Massport would be weakened so that it exists to meet federal aviation rules. Patrick would also adopt numerous structural changes proposed by an influential state panel, including cuts in future MBTA fringe benefits that have been especially costly.

Swell. Decent-sounding plan. But here's the rub:
The plan, which Patrick is scheduled to formally unveil in a speech this afternoon, will be filed with the Legislature in a more detailed bill in the next few days, the officials said.
The next few days? This bill could have been written with quill pen on parchment with the amount of time it has taken to come into focus. Why yet one more delay?

Could it be to put pressure on lawmakers because the Turnpike Authority is scheduled to vote on tolls next week -- which has a plan for a two-stage hike starting with phase one as early as next month?

House Transportation Committee Chairman Joseph Wagner is not amused.
“I’ve tried to give the administration the benefit here, but submitting a bill at the eleventh hour on the eve of a toll vote is the wrong way to go. There really shouldn’t be an expectation on the part of the administration that we would turn substantial reform legislation around on a dime.”
True, why rouse legislators from their mid-winter torpor. It's school vacation week after all.

And the House was perfectly capable of creating its own package in the absence of a gubernatorial plan. The Senate did. I guess the House was too busy playing "Speaker, Speaker, Who'll be the Speaker" and "Musical Chairs" to get to work on its own plan.

Since nothing is yet written in either the governor's office or the House let me propose two new revenue sources:
  • a dithering tax, to be paid by public officials who can't get from concept to legislative proposal to final action and;
  • a finger-pointing tax on elected officials who try to pawn off the blame on others when they have had it within their own power to act
We might be able to repeal the income tax with the revenue that would generate.

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Blogger Judy Meredith said...

Love,love,love the dithering tax (as long my husband can't apply it to me.)

The pointing fingers tax has been around a long time. Wish I could embed this famous Thomas Nast cartoon. http://www.vlrc.org/quotes.html

February 20, 2009 8:20 AM  

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