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.
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.