NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

April 6, 2013

A rebellion en route to a legacy

Bill Plante
Newburyport Daily News

---- — Big Freddy was folding his morning newspaper when I joined him.

“What’s happening?” I asked as I settled in on my side of the booth.

“Rebellion in the party’s ranks,” Freddy said.

“Which party?” I asked.

“Which party? In Massachusetts up on the Hill? You have to be kidding,” Freddy said. “Republicans don’t have enough to start a poker game, never mind a rebellion.”

“Well, they do try to get their oars in the water,” I said.

“They’re still trying to build a boat that’ll float,” Freddy said.

“So is our governor,” I said.

“Because this is his legacy time and his eye has to be on what could be next for him because he’s still young,” Freddy said.

“But this is no small thing he’s asking. He wants a $1.9 billion budget increase, which Robert A. De Leo, who you will also recall is not only the speaker of the House, he’s Democrat-in-chief, tells the governor to dream on, your governorship, because we’re looking at something a lot less.’’

“Patrick knew that going in,” I said. “He also knows there’s a lot that needs fixing for transportation and education that he says would be funded by a 1 percent income tax increase.

“He expects that would be offset by sales tax cuts of 1.75 percent. If he’s right, that would tie it in to whatever the inflation rate would be down the road.”

“And that went over like a lead balloon, and not just Republicans were in the basket,” Freddy said.

“It’s not that House and Senate Democrats don’t see the need for more revenue. They’re looking for about a quarter of what Patrick’s calling for, and they want to do it by raising the gas tax three cents a gallon.

“Democrats are looking for only a fourth of the revenue he wants.”

“What everyone else not up on the Hill wants is relief,” I said.

“Those up there would like that, too, because what they have is collective headaches. They have constituents, and that’s where their headaches come to roost.

“We don’t call it representative government for nothing. There’s always fallout for those we elect. They have to deal with realities in their districts, and what’s good for the geese may not be good for the gander.

“That’s not to mention what would be best for the whole. When you come right down to it, that’s really what’s on the table at times like this.

“There’s an awful lot that needs fixing, and not just in and around Boston. It’s more than what’s needed there. It’s what’s beating in the political hearts of those in all the state’s districts. That’s what finds its way up the hill.

“As for what the governor wants, what he’s going to get will be less because in situations like this, Tip O’Neill got it right when he said ‘All politics is local,’ and Patrick’s taking a long look down the road.”

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Bill Plante is a Newbury resident and a staff columnist.