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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Half-bakered notion

Lost amid the usual back and forth about insurance premiums, taxes and Big Dig tolls is this hidden gem: Charlie Baker says the Legislature will agree to his reform plans without a fight. Huh?

Yes, the veteran of two tours of duty in the Weld administration told the Patriot Ledger he thinks the Great and General Court -- which has stymied municipal finance reform and fought tooth and nail before losing ethics and pension reform -- is going to roll over and agree to his Baker's Dozen reform without a whimper.
In the Legislature, there’s “more appetite for (these reforms) than you might realize,” he said.
And I have a tunnel under the harbor I can sell you. Cheap. OK, maybe not the tolls.

Anyone with even a passing acquaintance of the way Beacon Hill works knows the Legislature holds the high cards, for better or worse. Whether it's the constitutional provision that the House, not the governor, initiates tax bills, or the sheer overwhelming 20-year reality of strong legislative leaders, the power today rests in the Great and General Court and is highly unlikely to ebb.

The lesson should be particularly clear to Baker, who saw his boss Weld campaign against then Senate President William Bulger, score enough senators to uphold a gubernatorial veto and yet never made any real progress until he decided to work with and not against lawmakers.

The succession of Republican governors with varying degrees of interest in governing only strengthened legislative power. The four-year history of the Patrick administration shows lawmakers are unlikely to give it back anytime soon.

Despite sharing party affiliation, Patrick had to fight tooth and nail for significant accomplishments in pensions, ethics, transportation and education. But that will forever be clouded by a flip-flop by House speakers on casinos and the damage that fight imposed on his leadership credentials.

Baker may indeed get a few more Republicans in both chambers. I even agree it would be a good thing to try and restore some balance.

But to declare lawmakers will wave through his proposals -- many of which they have steadfastly opposed for years -- is mind-numbing either for its cluelessness or its outright deceit.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

In order to try and restore some party balance in the General Court, the Republican party has to show that they are willing to legislate, do the grunt work, and seek out the jobs of senator and representative. They can't just see themselves as the executive party, hoping for a superstar candidate to cop the top job and talk of reform. It takes down and dirty hard work to accomplish.

October 07, 2010 8:13 AM  

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