newest bumper sticker, a gift from the Foxborough Republican Town
Committee, reads "1.06.11."
the date that Gov. Deval Patrick leaves office if he is not
re-elected. The Republicans are understandably focused on him. But I
am more interested in the day before, 1.05.11, when we could see
some challengers taking the place of incumbents in the legislative
across the Massachusetts political and media spectrum, people are
trying to figure out Deval Patrick. I find myself relating to his
inability to deal with the Legislature. I've been there, Governor!
course, I was trying to talk them out of, not into, raising taxes.
it once sounded like a good idea when private-sector types wanted to
"run the state like a business," I now hear that expression and
laugh. No one can run the state like a business, because it isn't a
business, it's a government, with different assumptions, priorities
Actually, as the government has become more involved in the private
sector, we see Big Business becoming more like the government, with
its focus on short-sighted self-interest, with the primary goal of
its leaders being the fat pension or "bonuses."
see Deval Patrick more as the traditional "private-sector guy in
government," i.e., way over his head. I think his campaign goal —
"to change the way Beacon Hill operates" — was both genuine and
hadn't even been involved with Beacon Hill as an activist, so he had
no idea how set it is in its self-serving ways. Nor was he
acquainted with us, the people, who have tried everything already to
change the way it operates — tax revolts, initiative petitions for
term limits and rules reform, and, occasionally, defeating enough
incumbents to scare the rest.
like us, Patrick knew there was waste in that thar budget, and he
intended to find it and use some of it for "property tax relief."
quickly made his first mistake by restoring former Gov. Mitt
Romney's cuts and planning to select his own methods of saving money
a fine Secretary of Administration & Finance, Leslie Kirwan; though
she stays in the background, I suspect that the good Patrick
initiatives that relate to local government come from her
long-standing experience at the Department of Revenue's Division of
Local Services and the time she spent as an assistant to Republican
Charlie Baker when he was A&F chief.
seems to have a private-sector attitude toward unions, rather than a
typical Democratic politician's fear of them. But he also,
unfortunately for him, had a private-sector attitude about executive
privilege, like the company car and office decorations, and generous
pay for other executives with whom he has connections, like Sen.
businessman/politician, he naturally doesn't "get" that what he
calls our "cynicism" comes from multiple counts of outrageous
"trivia" that make up our ongoing experience with Beacon Hill.
I recently heard someone equating him with our last Democratic
governor, I thought to myself: "Not on Deval's worst day." As a
taxpayer activist, I knew Mike Dukakis, and Gov. Patrick,
thankfully, is no Mike Dukakis.
that governor, he is determined to raise taxes, and I've been
relieved to hear the Senate president and House speaker say "reform
before revenues" every time the governor floats a new plan. From
experience, I expect that in the end there will be little reform and
many new revenues — a bit of unpleasant predictability in the midst
of this era of "what unimaginably insane thing will Washington,
D.C., do next"?
I have a
"new perspective": In comparison to what the federal government is
doing to us, Massachusetts' political shenanigans are comfortably
familiar. Billions of dollars' worth of budget deficits and the
highest debt load of any state in the nation pale in comparison to
trillions' worth of national deficits and debt.
state level, nothing good ever happens until there is a crisis. Then
officials sometimes stumble into solutions which hold them over
until they can fall back into the familiar pattern by taking the
easiest route to their campaign contributions or peace with the
unions, which usually threaten more disruption than other
constituencies. Taxpayers put up with outrageous pension scams; the
haphazardly stitched-together patchwork of taxes, fees and tolls;
the patronage; mismanagement; bad priorities; and scandals, as long
as they can afford the money to support them.
year, many communities sense that they won't get overrides from
overburdened citizens. Meanwhile, legislators aren't sure they can
get away with hiking taxes "temporarily," because a tax hike is a
pay cut that taxpayers can't afford, and no one will ever believe
that "temporary" ploy again.
we will not be seeing Gov. Patrick's promised "property tax relief,"
we also shouldn't see the property tax increases desired by some
now-exposed public employee unions. The proposed transportation
reforms don't go as far as they should, but the Legislature is
working on some of the governor's proposals for changing the most
egregious pension scams.
also hope that Gov. Patrick is willing to go some serious rounds
with the unions, and that the Legislature hears angry taxpayers'
"01.05.11" slogan loud and clear.