Dem Party Chairman John Walsh made a visit to tonight's Town Dem meeting in Swampscott. He came chiefly to talk about transportation, an issue that's critical and, obviously, something the Governor is pushing. It was a pretty crowded room, so he had a pretty good sized audience. We usually get 30-40 people at our quarterly meetings - a few more actually showed up tonight.
His point was a great one. When this state was going through the Big Dig and how to fund it, who was over in the Corner Office? Walsh went back to 1998, when Paul Celluci was in charge, and talked about how Celluci pushed on the Pike, with Republican-appointed boards, a $1.9 billion bond loan the state needed to finish paying for the Big Dig. The Pike was then more than solvent and was easy pickings for Celluci. The bond was a 40 year bond -- the first 10 years of which the State had to pay nothing. The state also borrowed, under that leadership, on employee salaries -- so now the Pike is paying $130 million a year to fund the last 15 years' salaries.
It was a broken model by a group of Republican leaders who loved Government services, but refused to actually pay for them. Now, when the bill is due, Democrats are forced to pay for it. Governor Patrick wants to do it through a gas tax, an entirely reasonable way of doing it, which will cost the average citizen around $100 a year. That's the difference between Republicans and Democats: Democrats are the adults who clean up the mess, who understand values have costs and must actually be paid -- and that they make the state a far better and more prosperous (not to mention profitable) place.