One Day

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That’s all it took.

We wait years for pension reform. Years for the state to reform the health care purchasing regime. Decades for them to loose the embrace of public employee unions. All that takes decades. And it isn’t done.

But an increase in the sales tax? All it takes is a day.

On this one the Governor is right. His letter yesterday certainly offended House members, in a way U.S. interference in a Central American election would offend that country’s population. The Governor’s letter was certainly an act of political gamesmanship, but what is wrong with that? Yes, he got the gospel late in the game, finally insisting on reform first.

But the Senate only talked a great game. They didn’t come close to delivering the goods. The House didn’t talk as much about reform. Perhaps that is because the initial House budget, while including some good changes, was falling under the weight of public employee union pressure. The re-instatement of the Quinn Bill incentives for police officers was only the first in a long list of pressures to come.

Reforms take decades if they ever come through. A billion dollar tax increase takes a day.

The governor needs a firm stand on this. And he needs to prove that he is not part of the Beacon Hill Kabuki Theater Association. He must prove a master of the other great Japanese theatrical tradition—Noh.

That will take a lot of doing. It will require that his new slogan of “meaningful reform” is, well, meaningful. On budget issues, that means a lot of the ideas in here (a little dated but plenty to chew on). On transportation, that means a lot of the stuff that is in here.

Many of us in the Boston area, given out proximity to the American Repertory Theatre, have spent a night at a meaningless play. Now the curtain has come down on the House’s first act of disrespect to the voters. We await the Senate’s second act, but expect little action. The final act may lie with the Governor. (A veto margin of 108-51 is not likely to hold.) The question the Governor has to ask himself is if whether he wants to be re-elected. We will see if his first-term rehearsal has molded a first rate actor.