The day after House Speaker Robert DeLeo called for scaling back Governor Deval Patrick’s ambitious tax and spending plan, the governor defended his goals in a rare committee appearance, while voicing openness to compromise.
This was the final budget hearing by the joint committee on Ways and Means, after a weeks long tour of the state. Governor Deval Patrick re-stated the case for increasing spending on transportation and education by nearly 2 billion dollars… That’s along with raising taxes and fees to make it possible.
Because all the evidence points to the fact that making these investments means jobs and opportunity.
Many lawmakers support the governor’s goals, but many also are wary of the price tag. On Thursday House Speaker Robert DeLeo bluntly told business leaders that Patrick’s plan would be scaled back. At the hearing, Patrick responded.
“I have acknowledged from the outset that there is room to debate the means, more than one way to as they say, skin the cat. I do think it’s important to start by agreeing on the ends instead of starting with the means and backing ourselves into half a cat.”
But Senator Mark Pacheco of Taunton warned that a voter backlash could cost Democrats their seats – as well as the Governor’s office – as happened when Dukakis-era tax hikes led to tax repeal petitions, and a 16-year reign of Republican governors.
“And we could very well be heading down that very same road depending upon how engaged the citizens and how much they believe in what is going on.”
Pacheco suggested putting Patrick’s tax and budget plan on a statewide ballot now, rather than wait for an inevitable repeal effort.
Patrick, who says he does not plan to run for-re-election, opposed the idea. He says voters are responding to his vision of “generational responsibility.”
“So I hope we will not punt, uh uh, not that. I hope we won’t put this off.”
House versions of the transportation and overall state budget are expected to be released next month. I’m Fred Bever at the Statehouse.