Excellent Globe editorial today on the budget

The Globe must be an interesting place to work these days.  On the one hand, we get front-pagers like this, chock-full of dire quotes from Michael Widmer about how the whole thing is based on “one-time fixes,” and from silly Republicans claiming that this budget is somehow less transparent than in past years (oh PUH-LEEEEEZ).  (Be sure to click the link, though, because the photo of Patrick addressing the Chamber of Commerce is really hilarious.)  We also, of course, are treated to the ongoing Vennochi-afertig-Charley smackdown.

And on the other hand, we get the editorial page taking a much longer view, seeing a much bigger picture, and in the process giving some credit to the guy who just won a highly improbable election:

Patrick’s budget relies on $295 million in revenues — $500 million annualized — from closing business loopholes, a proposal that has met with predictable claims that it will harm the business climate. But the fact is that Massachusetts ranks near the bottom among the states in its overall corporate tax burden. If low taxes were the only or even the primary determinant of business success, Massachusetts ought to be booming.

The bigger question for business leaders is how they propose to pay for the worthy government initiatives they desire: investments in a highly educated and trained workforce; lowered housing and healthcare costs; property tax relief; a speedier regulatory process; and a gridlock-free commute. These benefits cost money. As Patrick has said, every line item in the budget has a real person behind it, and that goes for business executives as much as for parents of disabled children.

Ouch!  Globe 1, Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce 0!  Take that, you cheap corporate types who already pay low taxes and would sooner take money out of the pockets of disabled children’s parents than suffer even a modest hit to your own bottom line!

But they’re not done.

The elimination of special-interest line items is long overdue, especially in the courts, where practically every clerk and doorman has his own earmark. But it strikes directly at the heart of legislative prerogative — a tradition House and Senate members are likely to feel strongly about relinquishing. The governor agreed he expects some “pushback” on that one.

Yow!!  Globe 2, legislature 0!  Take THAT, you earmark-enacting pork-snarfing judicial-hack-job-loving reform-hating legislators!

But wait — there’s more.

Patrick has said repeatedly that he doesn’t want his budget to be dead on arrival. His landslide victory was a mandate for reform. Perhaps the voters who elected him ought to plan a little pushback of their own.

HOLY SH*T!!!  Globe 3, entrenched power structure 0!  Do my eyes deceive me, or did I just see the Globe editorial page explicitly calling on the grassroots that elected Deval Patrick to rise up in support of his budget proposals to put pressure on the legislature, the Chamber of Commerce, and everyone else who might stand in the way of the new Governor’s agenda?  Someone pinch me, quick!

Most likely, such a grassroots uprising will not happen by itself around something like the budget.  Someone has to ask for it, and we all know who that someone has to be.  And so some have wondered aloud why they, the grassroots that elected the new Governor, haven’t been called upon yet.  I think that’s a fair question to ask.  I’ve got some thoughts on it, and some information to pass along, but unfortunately I’m out of blogging time now.  I’ll try to post more on this later.  ‘Til then, kudos to the Globe editorial page. 

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  1. does anyone know...

    ...the state of DP's campaign infrastructure?

    for example, if he were to say in april "i need 20,000 phone calls and letters this week to the 200 reps and senators from my 20,000 campaign volunteers and donors, to push Beacon Hill on the issue of X...." can he make that happen in a direct GOTV way?  i.e., a team of precinct captains have been told since the election to be on standby for one time in spring to make their calls, etc....?

    or would it be more like DP would make public statements and hope that his supporters would be activated, but which would maybe generate 1,000 calls and letters? 

    • I can only speak for my neck of the woods, but...

      This might go without saying, but there's a lot of overlap between folks who are active (in an ongoing fashion, not just on a per-election basis) in the state Democratic committee/town committee structure, and those who were actively involved in the Patrick campaign, especially when you include folks who were working on the campaign after the primary, when every Democrat in the state should have been active.  To the extent those channels of communication are still active -- and where I am, they are -- they should be able to help mobilize for the kind of activity you're describing.  I can't say that it would result in 20,000 as opposed to 1,000 letters and calls, but I think any surge of communications from constituents would be noticed.

      • thank you

        • Far be it from me

          to actually use the dread words "talk to action," but why don't the more fervent Patrick fans here do the following:

          1. Put up a diary devoted to brainstorming key talking points to defend the budget, provide context, and (please) eviscerate Andrea Estes; and

          2. Organize a LTE and legislative outreach campaign to deliver them?

          Just curious.

  2. Here's all you need to know about the Glob story:

    Andrea Estes of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

    The Globe falling off the white horse of journalistic integrity roughly coincided with the beginning of Ms. Estes' tenure on the political/Beacon Hill beat.  Any time I've seen anything as egregious as today's story, her name has been associated with it.  Might be time to check in with the ombudsman again.  And in case she searches the web for her own name from time to time -- Andrea, baby, we need to talk.

  3. I just don't get it?

    How are there so many crappy reporters out there? The Globe is a mess. You've got the editorial staff who, more often than not, is solid (not revolutionary, but solid). Then you've got the political reporters, who I'm quite convinced are bat-shit crazy // lazy // shills // et al. Then you've got Joan Vennochi, who every once in a while comes out with GREAT op eds with the kinds of sources and facts that the real news people should be jealous of... then she gets mad because Deval's not smiling in front of the camera 24/7.

    I just don't get the newspaper anymore. They should turn it into a sitcom at this point.

  4. Game on.

  5. Are any of you disturbed that virtually all of the social service cuts come at the expense of the disabled?

    Handicapped transportation zeroed out?

    Cuts in nursing home reimbursement rates - AGAIN???

    Cuts to Turning 22, in-patient mental health, and community clinics?

    ALL of these adversely affect Cape Cod which has a LARGE elderly and disabled population and no public transit.

    Never MIND the slashes in toruism money.

    I need the weekend to do a thorough compare and contrast, but what I've seen so far is disturbing - especially ignoring the ADA and leaving out the blind.

    • It's a tough budget

      The UMASS system was barely level-funded, it's budget increase was probably less than the rate of inflation (at least in terms of college expenses).

      I'd have to see how stringent the cuts were and where, in those programs, the cuts were made before I'd criticize him. He clearly had his priorities and I don't really think they were bad.

      • Don't interrupt

        a talking point under development.

      • Ryan - this is why I was asking about means testing before expanding tax credits like the circuit breaker.

        We are both responding to the things which are personal concerns for us - but both should be better funded.

        Fortunately, as I noted elsewhere, the Governor's budget is really a very big press release.  The House and Senate budgets are conferenced, and the Governor's is only a source for ideas.  The House budget is due in a few weeks (short time, because Deval got an extra month because he is a new Governor - next year, he'll have the budget due the 3rd week of January).  Those are the numbers to watch.

        What is disquieting is that the Governor's budget is a demonstration of his priorities.

        • Again,

          He had to make tough choices. I can't blame him for making some of the cuts that he did, at least with my limited knowledge of those cuts. However, in the case of the UMASS system, the small cuts we'll have to make seem like they're going to be necessary.

          When you have a billion dollar deficit added onto a new health care plan that is going to be tremendously expensive to the state, something's gotta give. Hopefully, in a year or two, the economy will be running smooth again and the money will be able to be restored.

          In the meantime, this state has to look at the inequities built within the system that allows for this kind of unstable system. Massachusetts really needs to overhaul the way it does taxes, allowing more local diversity and a more progressive strategy. I, for one, don't think we can every truly stabilize our system without a graduated state income tax, even if the people at the top only pay a slightly higher percent than the people at the bottom (say creating a 4.5-6.0 system, with multiple brackets in between). Of course, something like that would require a constitutional change, but one that I think can win state-wide if it's packaged correctly.

    • Wait, aren't you the conservative? :)

      Maybe all politics are local after all..

      • What makes you think conservatives would not want to help the disabled...

        ...instead of the Schooner Ernestina, Dialoging on Race in Boston, Statues of JFK on Main St. in Hyannis, police details, Mass Turnpike State Police stipends, and any other of a HOST of dubious programs the Legislature has seen fit to fund year after year?

        • Hah, I rode on that Schooner

          Senior year in high school.  Good times.  Anyways, I guess I was saying that funding to help the disabled has traditionally seemed to fall under the "government" that Grover Norquist wants to strangle in a bathtub.  Not that I'm comparing you to Grover, or putting words in your mouth about which programs should be cut/funded.  Of course the flagrantly wasteful stuff should be cut first but does that mean you support social spending in lots of forms?  How do you reconcile that with tax cuts?

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Mon 28 Jul 4:17 AM