Patrick’s transportation tax plan going nowhere fast
The beat down on Gov. Deval Patrick’s $1.9 billion tax plan continues. A careful listener at Tuesday’s transportation oversight confab heard the sound of the solons of Beacon Hill unwilling to raise the income tax, without which Patrick’s solution to the state’s transportation crisis, an income tax hike/sales tax decrease, falls apart.
Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation and a long-time advocate for increased transportation investments, said the state could make do with $800 million annually, 20 percent less than what Patrick asked for. He gave the gas tax a thumbs-up, warning that an income tax increase would go into general revenues and would not necessarily flow to transportation, while skimming over the fact that under Patrick’s plan sales tax revenues would go exclusively to transportation as well as education.
The resurrection of the gas tax, an idea that House Speaker Robert DeLeo shot down four years ago, likely has Patrick banging his head on a Corner Office wall.
Some lawmakers do support the governor’s plan to generate new transportation revenues. Rep. Dave Rogers, a Cambridge Democrat, is all in. Then again, anyone who rides the MBTA’s Red Line during a rainstorm and sees water flowing into stations from strange places would probably support greater transit investments.
Sen. Marc Pacheco, a Taunton Democrat, warned of dire electoral consequences and laid the problem at the feet of taxpayers who want things (like South Coast Rail, presumably) but who “may not want to pay for them.”
A State House auditorium full of Democratic activists, who turned out en masse to cheer Patrick and tax increases, is not likely to change this viewpoint, one that many of Pacheco’s colleagues quietly agree with.
But raising the gas tax a paltry 15 cents has all the hallmarks of another inadequate fix to a problem that worsens with every passing rainstorm.
Business and transportation advocates’ insistence on generating transportation revenues dedicated to transportation needs also risks underfunding solutions since many of those ideas, like a vehicle-miles-traveled levy, remain trapped in the conceptual stages.
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Attorney General Martha Coakley keeps up her hunt for compensation information for Northeast Utilities chief executive Tom May.
Manchester residents try to raise awareness of the estimated $52 million in unfunded pension and post-retirement liabilities the town faces, the Gloucester Times reports.
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Newton voters approve an $11.4 million tax increase.
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Boston will hire a new company to provide bus service to its public school students after two years of chronic problems with the current contractor.
A former Republican pollster for George W. Bush says opposition to gay marriage is a dead-end for the GOP.
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Expanded checks on gun buyers are approved by a US Senate panel, the Wall Street Journal reports.
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The Globe profiles the two American cardinals being touted as possible popes — Boston’s Sean O’Malley and New York’s Timothy Dolan — and their wildly divergent styles.
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Acushnet selectmen gave approval to a proposal to place a police officer in each of the town’s schools in the wake of the Newtown, Connecticut, shootings.
A new report from the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation indicates 3.9 percent of the state’s population lacks health insurance, with those uncovered concentrated in Barnstable, Chelsea, Everett, Revere, Lawrence, Brockton, Lynn, and New Bedford.
A Boston taxi fleet is suing the smartphone app maker Uber Technologies over its livery car service
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NASA officials say the Mars rover has found that the red planet was suitable for life in ancient times. Maybe they should have put the money in a time machine rather than a spaceship.
Scituate selectmen voted against a petition from residents looking to shut down the town’s wind turbine over fears the town could face costly lawsuits. In Lynn, meanwhile, a contractor hired to put up a wind turbine is facing criticism for delays, the Item reports.
MEDIAThe Herald’s Howie Carr goes after “Dunce Deval” and the Globe over the resignation of Sherri Killins, the former commissioner of Early Education and Care.
Federal officials raided a pirate radio station in Brockton and confiscated the broadcasting equipment.