DeLeo may be able to push through most of whatever he wants wielding the power of the gavel, but there's a battle for the heart and soul of Massachusetts right now -- and the Speaker's on the wrong side of it. No, it's not just the sales tax -- it's the notion that we can continue to pretend that we don't have problems. The problems are hitting us on the side of our heads and still we're ignoring them.
DeLeo may claim to be trying to fix them through this sales tax hike, but what does it actually accomplish? Does it fix our transportation system? No. Does it pay to pave the roads and fix the bridges we need? No. Does it give cities and towns the tools they need to solve their own problems? No. This sales tax is a policy without a goal, never mind a vision. It doesn't seek to fix anything. It's just raising taxes for the sake of raising taxes -- throwing some money at our problems, without rolling up our sleeves and trying to fix them, then absolving ourselves from any of the responsibilities. It's not responsible, adult behavior.
That's why Governor Patrick needs to veto this bill. It may be overridden, but it sends a clear message. It's a message that voters will hear -- and they're going to ask why their elected leaders failed to do right by the state today. Deval won't make many friends on Beacon Hill renewing his campaign against the Big Dig culture, but it's long since past worrying about such things now. The battle for the Commonwealth's soul is not lost yet, but it's going to take a vintage Deval Patrick to win it.