It’s time to call Beacon Hill. Today.

Speaker DeLeo and Senate President Murray have decided to nibble around the edges of fixing MA’s transportation infrastructure, and to ignore education all together.  Meanwhile, the doors are literally flying open on moving Red Line trains and chunks of concrete are falling out of Interstate 91 - and that’s just in the last two days.  The legally-required expansion of the Green Line, which had finally seemed to be gathering momentum recently, would again be back-burnered under the DeLeo/Murray plan.

And all this because DeLeo and Murray are afraid that the people of Massachusetts can’t stomach anything more than a three-cent increase in the gas tax (oh, and yet another buck on every pack of cigarettes), despite polls (commissioned by the Herald!!) showing the exact opposite.

Furthermore, it appears that the DeLeo/Murray plan leaves the sales tax at its current rate of 6.25%.  I argued even before Governor Patrick released his proposal that that is a bad idea.  Governor Patrick’s plan to increase the income tax, increase exemptions, and cut the sales tax is the most progressive tax proposal seen in this state in ages, and that is the direction in which we should be moving.

Charley (he and I are apparently thinking along similar lines this morning – great minds, and all that) has more on the MBTA.  Meanwhile, the Governor is not throwing in the towel just yet.

The governor, who offered restrained reactions to rejection of his tax bill so far, indicated Wednesday he will keep pushing for additional revenue and said he has been willing to negotiate with legislators over their differences. Mr. Patrick said he was still evaluating how to respond to the legislative package and would have more to say about it today.

“I have been clear publicly and with the legislative leadership that I am willing to compromise,” Mr. Patrick told reporters at the Statehouse after a meeting with a group of education advocates seeking more extended learning, early education and college aid funding from the governor’s tax proposal.

“I do think there is such a thing as too small. I think we have got to be serious about investing in ways that give us growth and investing in education and transportation do that,” the governor said. “This is a process and we will see where this process goes,” he said adding, “We are doing some analysis ourselves internally. I’m going to try to collect my thoughts and give you some comments tomorrow.”

But there was no white flag in the offing from the governor. “We are going to keep talking. It is too important to just stand back and wait for it to happen. If we want growth we have to go and get it and that is what my proposal was about,” Mr. Patrick said.

I am lucky enough to be represented by Senator Pat Jehlen, who just made the case on this very blog that the DeLeo/Murray plan is woefully inadequate, and by Rep. Sean Garballey, who also backs a more aggressive plan.  But what about your legislators?  Do you know where they stand?

Right now is the time to find out, and to let them know where YOU stand.  And by now, I mean now.  Today.  The legislature has absurdly fast-tracked this thing, apparently to the point of passing it by Monday.  One can disagree with the legislative Republicans who want to ferret out more “waste fraud and abuse” before considering taxes, while also agreeing whole-heartedly with them that there should at least be a hearing before rushing the bill to the Governor’s desk.

Call your Senator.  Call your Rep.  If you’re not sure who they are, this spiffy tool will tell you.



Discuss

44 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Called and wrote

    I was mad when DeLeo let his “fantasy land” comment fly. Now I’m just furious.

  2. It's sad that I don't know who my State Senator is

    None of the names rang a bell.

    Anyone else find it “convenient” how a door in the T wouldn’t close, and the GUV wants to raise taxes for T “improvements”? Things that make you go hmmmm.

  3. Handy script for people to use

    This is Ben writing for Progressive Mass, We are pretty upset about the leadership proposal over here, and we made a useful script that folks can use to make the calls. This is a great chance to make sure that progressive legislators stand up for progressive values. If you call your legislators, tell us what they said in the comments.
    Here are the results of my calls:
    Jeff Sanchez’s aide said that he is still weighing both the Governor’s proposal and the one from leadership, and they will get back to me when they have made a decision (but did not indicate that he would have a decision by the end of the week, which seems like a tight timeline). I’ll post that decision here.

    Senator Chang-Diaz’ aide who works on revenue issues was in a meeting, but they will get back to me soon. I’ll let you know what they say, but I have heard from very reliable sources that Senator Chang-Diaz opposes leadership’s plan.

    Call your legislators, then tell us what they said right here in the comments.

    Ben

    • Excellent Alert, Excellent Script -- Thanks Progressive Mass .......

      Alert from Progressive Mass

      Tell Your Legislator: Vote NO; Fight for Real Investment
      Featured, Take Action Add comments

      The politics around this topic are shifting and volatile right now. We will continue to post updates on the latest best messaging for outreach and changing landscape as we approach the votes next week.

      Yesterday, the Senate President, Speaker of the House and Ways and Means chairs unveiled a pre-conferenced revenue proposal — the counter-proposals to “Act to Invest in Our Communities” and the Governor’s — which is shockingly inadequate to meet our needs (read our press release, here).

      The proposal raises only $500 million (far short of our structural deficit) and only covers transportation spending (and comes up short, at that!). Leadership rejected finding new revenue for education and services.

      The next step is a vote on these proposals. The House vote is expected on Monday, and the Senate vote on Thursday.

      Between now and the vote, leadership will be shoring up support — counting their votes among the Representatives and Senators.

      The fight is not over, however, and legislators need to hear that you’ll stand with them if they stand up for real investment in our many needs now and future economic strength.

      Our script — with key talking points – is here.

      PLEASE CALL AS SOON AS YOU CAN; you want to talk to your legislator as early in their decision process as possible! Register your contact below, to help us assess our outreach and calibrate as we move forward!

      And, as always, your organizing skills and ability to get others to call too can make the difference. Get started!

  4. Power for Power's Sake: screw that!

    On John Walsh’s “Political Risk” thread, I wondered a couple of times outloud — why is it that legislators don’t understand that their constituents ACTUALLY DO SUPPORT community investment in our infrastructure, schools, services, paid for with fairly raised taxes? As John aptly pointed out, 2012 gave us ample evidence of the public’s willingness — and I’d say MANDATE — to *INVEST* in our communities, yes, with fair TAXES! (and then there’s that Budget for All which “polled” almost a million Mass. voters! What better sample size do you want than that???!!)

    And I came to a lightbulb moment.

    Maybe the timidity and demurring about supporting “Act to Invest in Our Communities” and the Governor’s plan WASN’T, as Legislators seemed to be saying, about “people don’t want to see their taxes increase” (see paragraph 1).

    MAYBE the timidity was ACTUALLY a convenient fiction to cover the actual issue: members don’t want to risk their Power by crossing Leadership.

    After Tuesday, I think that this reading is now obvious (Duh, harmony!). I get it but I still don’t understand it!

    Maybe I’m politically naive, but for crying out loud, when you have the electorate fully behind you, when you have the Governor behind you, when you have skilled, progressive campaign organizers behind you — why the frak are you siding with the Speaker — on a truly shitty tax vote that isn’t going to make anyone happy (let alone make any difference in our services, infrastructure, education investments)??

    Because of risk to power and influence inside the building? Really? OK… Loss of power to… to do what, exactly?

    – Are you going to use your conserved power to pass Single Payer Health Care?
    – Are you amassing your influence so we can get an amendment for real Progressive Income Tax?
    – Are you consolidating your tremendous might so that you can pass a sweeping WPA-style jobs program?

    Because, that would be AWESOME, and I would LOVE to hear all about for what it is that you’re keeping your powerful powder oh-so bone-dry.

    But y’know what, I don’t think that’s what’s on the table.

    I don’t think this meticulous accumulation of brownie points and power-ups is being assembled for anything sweeping, bold or innovative. I’m thinking it’s much more mundane, petty and selfish.

    And that f#cking sucks. I think I am politically naive enough to believe that people go into elected office believing in public service and being responsible stewards of the vast resources that make up our communities — people, economies, nature, talent, innovation, industry, labor…

    I’m still politically naive enough to be pissed when I see base self-interest trump community interest.

    I’m angry. I’m disappointed. And I want to do something about it. I can’t wait to see that progressive scorecard updated after these votes.

    I hope you’ll join me in trying to hold them accountable, now.

  5. Just called

    Called my Rep (Chris Fallon) and Senator (Katherine Clark). No position yet either way from either one of them. They just got the leadership’s crazy proposal and they have until 5pm tomorrow to offer amendments, so they’re reading right now basically.

    Conveyed that the leadership plan will guarantee another MBTA fare increase — which, hello, is a tax increase and it’s not measured in cents it’s measured in dollars and it hits mostly low income folks. I’m not a huge fan of a gas tax increase but come on 2-3 cents is NOTHING (for most people). That said, we need to deal with the income tax instead, that is the fairest way to obtain needed revenues. And the people support that strategy.

  6. To me, they need to make *one* change

    There are lots of things I’d like to see them do, many great ideas they could add to this package and lots of opportunity to improve our state right now, but there’s only one thing they absolutely, positively need to do, before passing a bill.

    They have to find the funding for the green line extension. This cannot be up for debate. Our state is on the hook for this project and has no choice but to build it. It’s a project that will cost $1.3 billion dollars.

    The federal government is willing to kick in almost $600 million of that… but only if we show them we can fund it. We cannot afford to be on the hook for that nearly $600 million. That is far too much money to flush down to the toilet because of shortsightedness.

    The state has to find the funding for it, whether it’s another couple cents on the gas tax dedicated to that project or more corporate tax loopholes cut (like the film tax loophole — worth about $125 million a year) or any other number of measures.

    We need smart and responsible government. We cannot create a funding package that costs us as much as it gains, not when our state is on the hook and legally obligated to fund a $1.3 billion dollar project.

    RyansTake   @   Thu 4 Apr 2:56 PM
    • raises a question for me

      I’m curious — does anyone know how “real life” budgeting works on Beacon Hill?

      I.e., if you’re the Guv or DeLeo, you presume that a $1.3 billion estimate is not $1.3 billion — unless the Green Line is different from every other state project.

      So how do you come up with a “true estimate” (even for “private” budgeting), and where do you put that info?

      I.e., how do you even TRY to gauge if you’re really talking, say, $1.4 billion for Green Line extension (a little over $1.3), or at the other extreme, Big Dig type overruns (i.e., 700%, which would turn the $1.3b into $9b of real money), which would cripple the state?

      Big Dig was originally priced at $2.8 b and I think I recall Globe saying all in the updated estimate is $22 b.

  7. Call report on Rep Garlick, Sen. Rush

    Sen Rush:
    Aide says he’s in caucus now, can’t say where he stands.

    Rep Garlick:
    Says that this is a challenging vote and the # of calls/emails against any revenue are same as # of calls/emails pro progressively raised substantial revenue. Is having district hours to listen to people.

    Sigh.

    • That's actually really encouraging

      If, as you say, the number of calls is about the same for and against new revenue, that leads me to think that the district is actually net-net *for* new revenue. As a general rule of thumb, you can always count on people to call their reps to complain about taxes — but hearing that about an equal amount are saying the opposite is unusual.

      • OR...

        The idea that “the voters just won’t let me do it” isn’t really the thing tripping us up here. I just don’t know. The Progressive is Strong in Needham, which is a huge part of the district. (Hey, we voted against Lynch in 2010 primaries, 60/40!).

        The prevailing operating theory seems to be (in all of legislature I think) that members need to be scared from the RIGHT.

        That’s crazy BS. Not sure what it will take for the electeds to understand that. Primaries from the left?

        • No, this is unusual

          Look at how big the Campaign For Our Communities has become, not to mention Progressive Mass taking off, not to mention GBIO getting behind new revenue, not to mention the Governor going out there with a bigger revenue plan. It is unlikely that we’ll have this kind of political opportunity again anytime soon — I think in many other years your rep might well be correct that the “voters just won’t let me do it,” but not this year.

          • "Voters won't let me do it"

            Yet, this is what we’re hearing, right?

            So… there’s a disconnect between what we see very clearly as the political temperature of the electorate and what the People-Who-Would-Excuse-A-Bad-Vote-On-This see as the political temperature. Right?

            Being told by my Rep that the calls/emails were “roughly equal” was NOT to make me feel better but to set the stage for, “Hey I may be voting against how you want me to.” (ie, it was delivered in a way that was not meant to be reassuring to ME).

        • Harmony, Members need to be supported from their own constituents right, left or center

          who promise to support their re election if they vote for new revenues.

          Threats don’t work. Unless you already already have a winning candidate ready to run against them on the platform of supporting ew revenue.

  8. Governor will veto leadership's plan

    Via boston.com:

    Patrick said that if legislators make no changes to the bill and pass it in a vote on Monday, he would not approve it.

    “If it comes to me in the current form … I’m going to have to veto it,” Patrick said. “That’s not a surprise.”

    In a 35-minute press conference, Patrick provided a long list of his objections to legislator’s bill, saying that he believes their plan will prompt steep MBTA fare increases in coming years, decaying roads and bridges, and a diminished quality of public transit throughout the region.

    “This is a return to an old way of doing business,” Patrick said. “It’s the same short-term fiscal shell game that got us the Big Dig and the mess that followed.”

    “From what we can tell, everybody pays more and gets less,” Patrick said. He said later, “I cannot support another effort to kick the can down the road.”

    If you haven’t called your legislators yet, please do.

    • And more than ever--

      It’s time to phone bank the legislature — tell them to stand with the Governor, including if he Vetoes!

      PS:
      Progressive Scorecards!

    • The current dynamic at the State House

      from the State House News, a subscription service in tiny part ….

      The House is scheduled to begin debate Monday on a tax bill that critics from the left say will not generate enough revenue and which has drawn harsh criticism from Republicans opposed to taxes they say are unaffordable.

      With the veto threat on the table, DeLeo and Murray will need to decide whether to stick with their plan or whether modify it, with each move potentially building support for the bill or causing more lawmakers to oppose it. It takes a majority vote to pass the bill but a two thirds vote in each branch to override a veto.

  9. Can we now say

    that those of us who had this concern about DeLeo last week were right?

    • I'm not cynical, I'm mad as hell!

      Somewhere on BMG recently, Ms. Meredith expressed a concern that some of us are getting cynical. I’m not cynical, I’m mad as hell.

      I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore.

      • On cynicism and being angry and not taking it anymore.

        This is what I said.

        My experience has taught me how important it is to moderate my clients energy because all too often the long process wears them out and they succumb to temporary cynicism because it’s easier to blame the process and the “hacks” than admit we failed to convince a “simple majority” to adopt our solution to our sympathetic compelling problem.

        Please continue to “take it” by organizing friends and neighbors to call their own Reps and Senators tomorrow and over the weekend. We can’t afford to lose your energy and committment.

        • That's how I shout from my window

          I’ve called my representative (Denise Provost) twice, and emailed her as well. I’ve called my senator (Patricia Jehlen). I’m calling all my friends and family and asking them to do the same.

          Again, I want to most graciously differ with your statement that “we’ve failed to convince a ‘simple majority’ to adopt our solution”. In truth, a compelling majority of Democratic voters support the Governor’s plan.

          There are times when “the process” is broken. I suggest that the best way to discern those times is to look at the outcomes. The current state of our transportation infrastructure, our schools, our services to our most needy residents, and our services to our ill and disabled residents demonstrates to me that “the process” is failing. We have had an overwhelmingly Democratic legislature for decades, and yet we still cannot accomplish these basic goals.

          Here’s another trap that I fear emerges from your suggestion. Let me describe it by analogy. President Obama has had enormous difficulty in putting his agenda into practice. The stance you take is all too similar to the false media bromide that this is because he “was overly partisan and failed to compromise”.

          Just as a Republican congress dedicated to the destruction of the Obama presidency will not allow ANY reasonable compromise, so to will a power-hungry Speaker dedicated to his own success not allow any reasonable compromise on the Governor’s budget. This is not about persuading a majority of legislators, this is about pure old-fashioned power politics.

          And THAT makes me mad as hell.

  10. Funny

    I’m told Garballey is privately saying he thinks the Guvs plan is suicide.

    • If so, he's wrong

      and he should read John Walsh’s post. People are on board for sensible revenue, and the Grover Norquist method of government is not winning.

      What gets me scratching my head is those folks who put political calculations first on their list but insist on calculating their political risk using 23-year-old (1990) data. That seems foolish to me. No, more precisely it seems dumb.

      And unnecessary.

      You see, we actually HAVE much more recent political data — only four months old as a matter of fact. Let’s take a look:

      - On November 6, there wasn’t a single incumbent Democrat who lost to a Republican anywhere in Massachusetts.

      - In truth, three incumbent Democratic legislators lost in primaries to Democratic challengers last fall.

      - Thankfully, in 2012 Democrats retired four one-term Republicans who arrived in the 2010 Tea Party surge that swept the country and one other who had been singing this right wing tune for a number of years.

      - In addition, there were a few other races where Democratic challengers came within points of unseating one-term Republicans.

      - On Election Day 2012, there were tens of thousands of Democratic organizers on the ground for GOTV. Over the last few years, these local organizers have learned how to execute a grassroots, issues-based, community-organizing campaign in their communities. It’s inspiring, isn’t it?
      ….

      For the few legislators that are only calculating their own political risks, I’d suggest that 23-year-old data can be misleading. More recent results suggest that when looking for political risk, right wing Republicans might not be your biggest problem.

      If Democrats in most districts want to make the safe choice, that may just be in making sure our roads are adequately funded. Anything other than that is going to leave them a lot more vulnerable on their left flanks than on their right — and that’s where more democrats were unseated as recently as the last election.

      Garabelly’s district, more liberal than most, is surely one of those districts… and the people who are opposed to a $1b+ sized plan are going to be the same ones opposed to a 3 cent gas tax. And they’re not going to vote for Democrats, anyway.

      RyansTake   @   Thu 4 Apr 8:11 PM
      • 100% right.

        All members who aren’t on from on this are privately thinking its suicide. They’re so thoroughly wrong. I’m sick of this.

    • Ass-backwards.

      N/t

    • 48 seconds of video

      Can I embed it? If no, click here.

      • For your convenience

        For those who, like me, can’t make me the default embedding work, here’s a work-around:

        1. Go to the youtube page containing the video itself (not a page where it’s already embedded).

        2. At the top of the comments section find the “Share” menu button, next to the “About” button. Click it.

        3. Click the “Embed” button on the result.

        4. Click inside the text area, selecting all the html, and copy it.

        5. Paste the html into the comment box here.

        6. Edit the html to remove everything outside the “embed” opening and closing tag. This is usually an “object” tag and several “param” tags.

        • thank you so much!!

          trying it…
          iframe embed doesn’t have any of that param gobbledygook, does it work?:

          old embed code, deleting the gobbledygood:

          does it work? Let’s see…

    • Spineless

      In 2010 the Republicans took over the North Carolina legislature. It took them about six weeks before passing a resolution that North Carolina officially doesn’t believe sea levels are rising (Maybe Dan’s looking for a nice place to relocate?).

      Then they passed legislation to cut the state budget by 8 percent, reject key provisions of Obamacare, and severely restrict even civil unions while the rest of the nation was moving toward marriage equality. Not to mention changing the one-year waiting period before someone can get a divorce to two years.

      In 2012 the state elected a Republican governor and that’s when the real fun begins. Reject a few more Obamacare provisions, authorize fracking and all sorts of other environmentally destructive things, get to work on the most restrictive (and partisan) voter ID law in the nation. They scrapped the state’s Office of Latino Affairs on day one and wanted to put pink stripes (why not scarlet letters?) on the driver’s licenses of people brought to this country as children whom Obama won’t deport.

      Until last night they were busy at work on legislation that (1) declares “Christianity” the official state religion of North Carolina (no state has had an “official religion” since the 1830s) and (2) revive the nullifcation theory, also from the 1830s, so as to argue that federal court’s can’t enforce the prohibition on official religions in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, interpreted as incorporated through the Fourteenth Amendment to apply to the states. I’m sure John Marshall would be surprised to know that the Constitution “does not grant the federal government and does not grant the federal courts the power to determine what is or is not constitutional.” I guess they didn’t read Article III (“The judicial power shall extend to all cases, in law and equity, arising under this Constitution…”) They’re also considering legislation to relax gun restrictions so residents can “resist federal tyranny.” They do support background checks, though. Just not for gun buyers. For food stamp recipients.

      This is not a state that’s been so ultra-Republican you’d think they can do this stuff with impunity. North Carolina has, right now, a Democratic U.S. Senator. It had a Democratic governor for 20 years before this January. It had a Democratic governor and legislature until the 2010 elections. But they’re going for it. Here, we can’t even increase revenues by 6% after, as Sen. Jehlen noted, cutting them by 26% since 1977. What’s the point of having huge Democratic majorities if you can’t get something like this done?

      I’m getting tired of it. Really tired. I’d be all for primarying about half these idiots. I’d rather lose some of the seats from the 80 to 90 percent majorities than continue to have these spineless, feckless, cowering bums. If the GOP had these kind of majorities, they’d privatize the legislature itself and outlaw elections.

  11. And

    I’m very, very confused as to how vetoing this makes any sense.

    • You don't pass shit legislation.

      Makes sense to me.

      • So

        The result will be no new funding for transportation.

        • Correct, if legislature doesn't get its shit together.

          The game doesn’t end at the veto. You start over. You go back to the drawing board. You draft something realistic and pass THAT. Not this insulting garbage that Legislators are falling all over themselves to protect. Why? To not have angry yahoos on twitter — who were never going to vote for them — say they’re going to not vote for them?

          Ha.

          Keep pissing off the left, Legislators, in your constant effort to chase after the Right. Keep pissing off the voters who elected — AND WORKED THEIR ASSESS OFF FOR — ELIZABETH FREAKING WARREN and BARACK OBAMA.

          Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

        • Don't enable conservatives

          If the only thing that we can pass is the crumbs that conservatives will “let” the people have, we’ll never win. Would you only vote for things that the national GOP will allow — some Social Security, maybe a bit of Medicare?

          Or do conservatives who call themselves Democrats get a free pass?

          sabutai   @   Thu 4 Apr 10:23 PM
        • The threat of a veto

          could also result in a few good amendments getting through, so the legislature’s bill won’t get vetoed.

          I’m an optimist. I think if we’re all very loud today and throughout the weekend — including the Governor, you and me — then the legislature will do the right thing and find a couple hundred million more in revenue to make sure the Green Line Extension’s federal matching funds aren’t put at risk, and a few more good projects will see the light of day.

          It only happens if we’re loud and if we make sure the legislature knows a) we think their plan is way too small and b) we’ll make sure they win reelection if they do the right thing and make this a bit better.

          As vocal as I’ve been on this issue, the legislature really has put in some good ideas here and I don’t think we’re far away from something the Governor could get behind.

          But we’ll never get it if we don’t ask, and be politely loud about it.

          RyansTake   @   Thu 4 Apr 10:33 PM
  12. I'm Sick of the Bedwetters

    It’s galling that from what I’m hearing this timid, regressive, pathetic proposal is almost entirely a product of fear: fear that some constituents on the right might be mad, fear that some even more conservative Democrat might criticize them (or even god forbid mount a primary challenge), or fear of Republicans. Nobody seems to be thinking about what’s best for the Commonwealth, or for the future. And this from Democrats! But as John Walsh rightly notes in the post quoted above, this fear is misplaced, given that exactly no Democrats lost their seats to a challenger from the right in the last election. So here’s a thought! How about some courage? How about taking a stand, loudly, because you know it’s the frickin’ right thing to do? Maybe, just maybe, if enough people did that, it would change the dynamic! Didn’t we just see that happen with gay marriage?

    And here’s the other thing: you know what might help combat the fear of the right? Creating a little countervailing nervousness about the left! So, make those damn calls! Maybe a few well placed calls from constituents will help our Democratic representatives get in touch with their inner, um, Democrat. Just sayin’

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Mon 21 Apr 3:09 AM