NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

March 25, 2013

Let's have real 'adult conversations'


Newburyport Daily News

---- — Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has an off-putting habit of talking down to the very people he’s trying to convince to see things his way.

Whenever the governor is attempting to schmooze Bay State taxpayers into opening their wallets, he casts himself as the one who gets it and who has been trying ever so patiently to explain things to the rubes who just refuse to understand.

Like when Patrick was stumping in 2009 for a 19-cents-per-gallon hike in the state’s gas tax — which would have made ours the highest in the nation — he told an audience in Haverhill that “grown-ups” understand we “can’t have something for nothing.” At the time, the state budget was something around $28 billion — which is a whole lot of “nothing.”

Patrick rolled out his condescending attitude again in 2011 when he said we need to have “an adult conversation” about raising revenues to fund improvements to the state’s aging transportation infrastructure.

Now Patrick is again trying raise taxes — $1.9 billion this time, which he plans to raise largely by hiking the state income tax rate from 5.25 percent to 6.25 percent while dropping the sales tax to 4 percent. Even as Democratic leaders of the Legislature are scuttling away from Patrick’s revenue proposals like crabs along the tide line, the governor proclaims he thinks the $1.9 billion figure is the “right number” to fund his transportation and education plans. And again, he has called for an “adult conversation.”

And that’s ironic, given who he rolled out last week to plead his case for him — dozens of kids.

So much for adult conversations.

Last week, the governor appeared on the Statehouse steps surrounded by 100 teenagers affiliated with a coalition of youth groups and advocates calling itself “Youth of Massachusetts Organizing for a Reformed Economy,” or “YMORE.” Their mission, according to their press release, is “to raise teen voices for fair revenue.” Word to the wise: “Fair” never means “less.”

As they surrounded the governor, the young people held signs, some with one-word slogans such as “compassion,” “equity” and “courage.”

It’s a pity no one has the “courage” to tell these young people the truth: The politicians they so willingly serve are bankrupting their futures. There is no free lunch. Someone, someday will have to pay for all the marvelous programs and initiatives purchased today with borrowed or squandered money. Guess who, kids!

Massachusetts is struggling to claw its way out of a recession. The state’s tax-supported debt is among the highest in the nation. Its pension system is woefully underfunded. Yet Patrick wants to raise taxes on every wage-earner in the state, not to reduce debt or meet prior commitments but so he can spend $1.9 billion per year more.

By all means, let’s have an adult conversation. Let’s send the kids home and talk about the wisdom and propriety of a state spending away its future and making promises it can never keep.