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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Battle joined

Deval Patrick certainly plans to go out with a bang, not a whimper.

After two days of highlighting his wish list, Patrick will spell out how he would like to pay for the $2 billion in transportation and education programs that would certainly be the icing on the cake of his two terms in office.

Published reports suggest that would be a boost in the state's income tax from 5.25 percent to 5.66 percent, a call likely to elicit howls of protest. And it is also probably a proposal dead on arrival at the Massachusetts House, where all spending and tax bills must originate.

But lawmakers have not yet slammed the door on any tax increases at all and even ardent tax foes concede a gasoline tax to finance desperately needed infrastructure upgrades is "the lesser of evils."

Not that they are conceding the battle. As the Pioneer Institute's Jim Stergios told The Herald:
“A lot of the state still has double-digit unemployment — Lowell, Lawrence, Fall River. Is this really a time to put these others taxes on the table? It’s pretty unwise.”
Is there ever a good time?

A Patrick spokeswoman counters:
“The governor feels the realities of this economy and knows that families are making hard choices every day. He also knows the best long-term solution is more economic opportunity and easier access to education. He is committed to a solution that is dedicated, comprehensive, and competitive — and being competitive means being fair.”
 The old line is the governor proposes and the legislature disposes. Budgets are historically thrown into the trash and reworked. Lobbyists will be out in force to get their favored provision. Talk shows will squawk about cutting waste, fraud and abuse.

And come July something will likely emerge that will not at all resemble what will be unveiled at tonight's State of the State address but will begin the process of addressing the transportation, education and other issues facing this state.

This is probably the high point of Patrick's clout. As a lame duck his power will slowly ebb. What makes this somewhat less predictable than budget dances of the past two decades is that Patrick says he doesn't intend to walk away -- physically or mentally as his Republican predecessors did. Nor is he grievously wounded politically as his one lone Democratic forerunner was in completing his term.

If Patrick is to be believed, he is not looking for a launching pad for higher office. He is looking for a legacy. And that frankly could be an even stronger motivation for the kid from Chicago.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

From the Doric columns on the state house to the increased taxes, our attempt to emulate Greece continues.

January 16, 2013 8:48 AM  

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