Massachusetts lawmakers have voted to override Gov. Deval Patrick’s veto of a transportation financing bill.
Patrick vetoed the bill after lawmakers rejected his demand to add a provision allowing for a gas tax increase if tolls on the western portion of the Massachusetts Turnpike come down as scheduled in 2017.
The House voted 123-33 to override Patrick’s veto. The Senate followed a short time later, voting 35-5 to override.
This was a multi-billion dollar missed opportunity for the Commonwealth, and will likely cost the state tens of billions of dollars in lost business over the medium term. As the Ant knew, prudent creatures invest for the future. Foolish ones, like most Republicans and, now, the Massachusetts House, sing all day and hope someone saves them when times get tough. As anyone who has traveled to northern Europe or developed Asia in the past decade knows, the U.S. has already fallen well behind its competitors on infrastructure from trains, airports and roads to mobile telephone technology and Internet access. Massachusetts is better than many states, which is an important reason for our relative domestic wealth, but compared to places like Singapore, Hong Kong, and even Shanghai we are falling well behind in both relative and absolute terms. Maintaining even the status quo requires investment of the kind that gave us one of the world’s first subway systems, limited-access highways, shopping centers, and even helped create the Internet (it also requires other things, like privatized government-controlled subway companies listed on the stock exchange in the case of Hong Kong and Singapore, and real competition for ISPs in the case of Korea, but I digress). As the legislature established today, we are unlikely to make any improvements of comparable significance for the commonwealth for the foreseeable future.
Progressives are especially to blame because they typically run for office as advocates for enlightened self-interest and assert the values of community and investment for the future. Yet in this case the caucus did about as much good for the Commonwealth as your standard issue hack who just wants to keep their $61,133 a year job (plus per diems!). In other words, in this case: followers, not leaders. I count 43 names on the list of Progressive Caucus members posted by ProgressiveMass. That is a big enough block to have likely KO’d the overrride. In fact, it might be a big enough block, if properly allied with the governor, to replace the existing House leadership with one of their own, given fortitude and discipline. We need some leaders.