With tensions continuing to ratchet up between the Governor and the Legislature it appears that opposition to Governor Patrick has created bipartisan comity in the State Senate. The Governor has reiterated his threat to veto the sales tax hike, calling Legislative tax hiking efforts “thumbing our nose” at taxpayers. The Governor continues to demand high profile reform bills be passed by the Legislature before tax hikes reach his desk. The Legislative response has been swift and furious. Republican senators launched blistering attacks on the Governor, but they were joined happily by the large Democratic Majority. State Senator Steve Baddour called a prospective veto “irrelevant” when interviewed by Janet Wu, and Senate Minority Leader Tisei called Patrick “erratic and irrelevant”. The Governor was hit for being out of state during the Senate budget deliberations, and the State Senate put up Patrick’s gas tax proposals at both 11 cents and 19 cents for decisive slam downs. Senate President Murray took the unusual step of actually voting (no) on the gas tax proposals, showing her continuing picque with the Governor. And Senator Bruce Tarr (R) of Gloucester filed legislation demanding further reporting on executive branch salaries and steps that the Governor would be taking to reduce compensation levels. It was a clear kick to the Governor. From the State House News Service:
Senators voted unanimously Wednesday to require Gov. Deval Patrick to report on “all action undertaken by the Executive Branch” this fiscal year and “those planned to be undertaken” next fiscal year “to reduce the costs of employee compensation.” The move comes amid high-profile stories of Patrick aides’ salaries, and hours after the News Service reported that Patrick called the Legislature’s timing on raising the sales tax “thumbing our nose” at taxpayers.
This measure passed the Senate unanimously, and apparently with some glee. When asked about whether a message was being sent to the Governor Senate President Murray said:
“Together we can … Together we must.”
The political situation continues to deteroriate rapidly for the Governor on Beacon Hill. He seems to have a split personality on the issue of fighting with the Legislature, issuing salves one day and fighting words the next day. He needs to fine tune the message, whatever that might be. If it is a fight he wants then the Legislature appears more than willing to oblige him. Does the Governor have the stomach for the nasty times ahead?