Gov. Patrick Takes Tax and Spending Plan to Public via Online Tool

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick unveiled a new online tool today  detailing the benefits specific areas of the state would get from his proposal for nearly 2 billion dollars in expanded education and transportation spending. 

The online maps are broken down by legislative district, in an apparent bid to target lawmakers who, so far, have been lukewarm TO new taxes and fees the governor wants. HE says the maps give voters direct information, which Patrick hopes will inspire them to contact their legislators.

“They work for the public just like I do.,” Patrick said. “And the public’s going to have to speak up. They’re going to have to say to the legislators the same thing they are saying to me: ‘We want this, we get it.’ And we are going to have to make the case to them about the wisdom of these investments.”

Some lawmakers and observers say the online tool is a creative way to make the case to voters. But it could be a double-edged sword. Representative Stephen Kulik of Worthington says when he found his rural town on the map for education spending, he was disappointed.

” Given how much the governor is proposing to spend on education it’s not a very convincing tool, because it’s a pretty minimal amount of money in my district,” Kulik said. “And I took a look at some other rural districts in western Mass, and they also have some very modest increases in spending.”

Kulik, the House vice-chair of the Joint Ways and Means Committee, says the governor appears to have focused increased education spending on so-called gateway cities like Springfield, Worcester and Brockton. The committee is holding statewide hearings on the governor’s proposal – and is expected to produce its own version in mid-April.