With the clock running Governor Deval Patrick faces some key political choices in the next few days, including whether to sign the Transportation Bill, and what to do on the state budget. The Governor has threatened a veto of the sales tax unless ethics reform is delivered, and that has not happened as of yet. Additionally the Governor, although praising lightly the Transportation Bill, has not as of yet indicated he will sign. Amidst this jockeying the Senate has wheeled out Senator Steve Baddour to let it be known that the Senate may choose not to try to override a sales tax veto, and just walk away from the issue, which would blow a $600 million dollar hole in the budget. The Governor would be forced to make additional cuts equal to the lost revenue, which would be a political disaster for him.
Baddour’s threat was explicit, carried today by Globe columnist Scott Lehigh. From the Lehigh column:
“There are a bunch of us who are suggesting to the Senate president that we should not take up an override,’’ says Senator Steven Baddour, Democrat of Methuen. (As a border legislator from a more conservative district, Baddour voted against the sales tax increase the first time around.)
Without such an override, a large hole would open in the budget – one that would require more cuts, and which would set in motion sizable toll increases.
“Let him face toll payers and taxpayers and say, ‘OK, as a result of my political decision to veto the sales tax increase, tolls are increasing, fares on the MBTA are going to go up, and I have to cut a billion dollars out of the budget,’’ says Baddour.
You can be comfortable in knowing that the Baddour thrust was authorized by the Senate President, and continues the game of political chicken that is ongoing between the Senate and Governor. It is a dangerous game, but if the Senate threat is credible then the Governor is in a terrible position. For those who think that it is the Senate Presidents move think again. She is holding some big political cards. The only question is will she use them if the Governor calls her bluff? Your move, Governor.