I’m nowhere near Beacon Hill these days, so it is useful and perhaps natural for me to consider what fundamental changes will be left standing after Governor Patrick takes his walk tomorrow.
I think of these as “facts on the ground,” structural changes (physical, political, or fiscal) that persist and exist independently of whoever sits in what chairs tomorrow. They materially change what is feasible going forward.
I invite BMGers to list what these are.
For instance, consider all the renewable energy resources that have been installed in the last 8 years or are firmly in the pipeline. These now have, or are about to have, their own existence and will supply energy for the rest of their material lifetimes.
Similarly, many communities, prodded by incentives, have adopted green building codes and are permitting efficient buildings that, once built, will persist for decades.
Everyone cheers these now (well not everyone) but that is because these accomplishments already exist. They will continue to do so even if the programs that brought them into being are phased out.
The Gov has been pretty good on aid to cities and towns, but this is something that can be reversed in a heartbeat, as surely as Governor Weld followed Governor Dukakis.
However Patrick brokered an important structural reform in local finance, giving local governments the power to shift employee health insurance into the state pool.
In my town this has contributed materially to delaying the next major tax increase by several years. It is the nearest thing there is to a fulfillment of the promise implicit on Patrick’s 2006 campaign observation that “the tax to cut is the property tax.”
Casinos represent another structural change that we will be living with for many years. Alas.
One area that has not seen much of this kind of structural change, and this is kind of surprising, is transportation. There has been some catching up on the maintenance deferred during various Republican administrations, and the new Orange Line stop at Assembly Square seems baked in. Nonetheless there has been very little progress on new rail lines or transit, despite an influx of stimulus money in 2009.
There has been a sort of slow renaissance in the idea of walkable and bikeable streets, supported by the Patrick administration, but I would argue that is the result of longer trends and of changes to state law made in 1996.
The last example that that comes to mind of a change that will persist for a long time are the Governor’s extensive judicial appointments.
What else am I missing?