Patrick’s transportation strategy
The Patrick administration’s transportation strategy seems to be working. First came the tease, then the hammer, and now the talk — by others — of new taxes or tolls is beginning in earnest.
After suffering a humiliating defeat in 2009 when he pushed for a hike in the gasoline tax, Gov. Deval Patrick hunkered down and let his transportation team do the best they could with the revenue they had. Everyone knew the T was literally living on borrowed money, but no one talked much about it.
Then the hints began – the lamentations about the drying up of federal funds, the delays in following through on transportation promises, the likelihood of a fare hike. No one ever said the T was running out of options, but that was the message.
Last week, the administration’s transportation strategy entered a new phase. T officials rolled out a series of proposed service cuts and fare hikes to close a $161 million budget gap. The proposal calls for the elimination of late night and weekend commuter rail, the cancellation of ferry service, and a sharp hike in fares. Reaction was uniformly negative, with riders complaining about the higher fares and Lowell City Manager Bernie Lynch saying the cuts will undercut smart growth and efforts to build sustainable communities.
As if on cue, frigid weather caused breakdowns of subway and commuter rail trains, stranding many riders for hours. Jonathan Davis, the T’s acting general manager, apologized, but went on to note that much of the transit agency’s equipment is well past its prime. “We have a need to replace these, but currently we don’t have the financial resources,” he said.
There was no bold plan from the governor or his transportation team for rescuing the T. No, they were following a script that called for them to make very clear how bad the situation was but not to offer any long-term solutions. This time around the governor doesn’t want to get too far out in front; he wants to be leading from the rear.
The Boston Globe, the state’s largest and most influential newspaper, took the lead over the weekend with an editorial supporting more revenues for the T. “A long-term solution to the T’s funding gap – whether from the gas tax, sales tax, higher tolls, or some other sources – is long overdue,” the editorial said. “If Massachusetts wants a world-class transit system, it has to get serious about paying for it.”
Patrick didn’t write the editorial, but that’s what he’s thinking.
The Berkshire Eagle says the Supreme Judicial Court’s reversal of the Legislature’s ban on Commonwealth Care coverage for legal immigrants was the right move.
About 20 people walked out of an Occupy Boston general assembly meeting last night after a proposal to ban Level 3 sex offenders from participating in Occupy events was tabled. Via Universal Hub. The National Review says the movement is “wandering in the desert.”
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The federal government mandates catch limits on protected fish species, the first country in the world to do so.
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It’s do or die for Jon Huntsman in NH.
Syndicated conservative columnist Deroy Murdock says Mitt Romney’s record of raising taxes as governor undercuts his claim to being a free-marketer. The American Spectator wonders if it’s still Mitt’s turn?
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Paul Krugman talks Republicans and income inequality.
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Jet Blue sets up shop at Bradley International Airport, a boon for budget-minded western Mass travelers who had to go to New York if they wanted an inexpensive flight.
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The Boston Globe reports on the resurgence of spelling instruction in elementary schools.
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The Chronicle of Philanthropy explains why community health centers matter.
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Lynn Police Chief Kevin Coppinger complains about facing too much crime with too few cops, the Item reports.
Two newcomers to the Andover High School basketball team file a lawsuit detailing the three sexually humiliating tasks they were given as part of a hazing, the Eagle-Tribune reports.
MEDIAhe’s given up on buying the Globe or if the deal is part of a bigger vision.