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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Ugly reality

Give Deval Patrick credit for not dodging the question. But I can't see gasoline taxes going up anytime soon.

The ugly reality of the state's fiscal 2010 budget is higher sales, meals and assorted other levies is there are insufficient funds for finding permanent solutions to the state's transportation problems. There won't be a massive hike in Mass. Pike tolls tomorrow but as a CharlieCard holder, I expect to see my costs jumping in the not-so-distant future.

And while the Turnpike Authority will soon disappear, problems it left behind in the form of financial nightmare caused by one of the unfathomable credit deals cooked up by Wall Street and which helped to bring the economy down are about to bite us hard.

The unpopular 19-cent a gallon gas tax preferred by Patrick never a had a chance in the Legislature. We can speculate why to a fare-the-well -- gasoline prices as a political third rail perhaps. And it would have been targeted to only one area of the state budget -- as desperately as it was needed.

The sales tax hike conceived by the Legislature will be equally unpopular when the full impact is felt (I know I'm going to complete a long-delayed major purchase before it kicks in). It offers smaller relief in a lot of other areas in addition to transportation but it will literally feel like we are being nickeled and dimed.

None of the state's problems are going to disappear until the national economy rights itself. And that's not going to happen anytime soon. That means we're looking at Band-aid solutions in many areas. Like the MBTA.

Solving the turnpike equity problem was important. But can anyone tell me that the fix is permanent as long as the massive Big Dig debt works its may slowly through our system like a rat through a snake?

And we've not even scratched the surface of the massive debt and service problems on the T.

So give Patrick credit for being honest enough to say this massive tax hike and spending cut package is only a start on the solution. But don't expect any more good answers anytime soon.

Happy Fiscal New Year!

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