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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, May 24, 2009

Mommy, Deval hit me!

Senate President Terry Murray apparently has a simple explanation for the battles taking place on Beacon Hill. It's not about taxes and spending and reforming policies long in need of repair.

Nope, it's personal, she tells the Globe's Joan Vennochi.
"The governor has decided he doesn't like us."
If that's true he has a lot of friends.

Murray is a thoughtful, passionate advocate who has done some good things in her years in the Massachusetts Senate. But she has stuck her foot firmly in her mouth twice in the last week and is on course to unravel a legacy. This latest remark is about as conciliatory as calling Gov. Deval Patrick "irrelevant."

Murray apparently feels betrayed that Patrick had the audacity to lobby members of the House and Senate directly over the sales tax versus gas tax debate that lawmakers firmly resolved with, as Murray noted, a "veto-proof" margin.

In the insular world of Beacon Hill, it's apparently inappropriate for the governor elected by all of the people to deal with 200 members elected by people in House and Senate districts across the state.

Vennochi reiterates the argument that House and Senate leaders -- backed by "veto-proof" majorities -- regularly ran roughshod over Republican governors for 16 years. The balance of power shifted away from the Corner Office and into the palatial offices of the Speaker and Senate President.

The GOP governors didn't adopt the same tactic as Patrick. They walked away. The voters -- those people in those 200 districts -- were the ultimate losers as lawmakers turned a blind eye to structural problems like transportation, a tax system that relied too heavily on capital gains and a pension system designed to benefit them in their dotage (which in legislative terms came in their 40s and 50s).

Everything was fine until the money ran tight. The disaster of the Massachusetts Highway System, which dumped costs from the mismanaged Big Dig onto the Turnpike Authority? Funding the MBTA with a penny from shrinking sales tax receipts?

What? Me Worry?

Now, in a classic bully response, lawmakers are crying foul when the latest focus of their tactics -- the men and woman who sat in the Corner Office -- decided he wasn't going to take it anymore.

Last session, former House Speaker Sal DiMasi was the heavy -- until questions about his relationships with friends and lobbyists brought him down. The mantle was picked up this year by Murray -- who while personally clean has had some serious ethical problems in her own chamber.

As is often noted, people like their own legislator but have little use for the body as a whole. And they love benefiting from public programs until the tax bills come due. That enabled lawmakers to lead a charmed life in the good times, aided and abetted by governors who lost interest in upholding the co-equal status of the executive branch.

That's why the current battle is a good thing -- even if lawmakers are having a hard time with a taste of their own medicine.

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1 Comments:

Blogger Judy Meredith said...

............... people like their own legislator but have little use for the body as a whole. And they love benefiting from public programs until the tax bills come due.
That enabled lawmakers to lead a charmed life in the good times, aided and abetted by governors who lost interest in upholding the co-equal status of the executive branch.

Correct observation I think.

Not sure it is correct however to characterize as personal some of the perfectly human and normal bargaining behavior being carried out in public between powerful politicians who differ on key policy points. Including characterizing the persons on the other side of the table as disrespectful or irrelevant when they score a point or two. Or three. But whose keeping count.

May 24, 2009 11:49 AM  

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