The Nuclear Option

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.

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3 Responses to The Nuclear Option

  1. Fred Mertz says:

    Mr. Mayor:

    It seems to me that the only counter to a nuclear weapon on the table is MAD: Mutually Assured Destruction. If I were so threatened, I would go on the offensive, veto all bills and turn the legislature back to producing a solid ethics reform bill before I signed off on the package. Fill the media with stories on the lack of action from the legislature, talk about the importance and how much a lack of ethics have cost the Commonwealth, remind us and the Speaker about the last three holders of her chair, then challenge the Speaker to finish the job she was elected to do. I’m not sure the legislature has banked much love among the electorate, and are more vulnerable now than the Governor is.

    Of course, this is one of the reasons why I could never be a politician. I’d last about 30 seconds.

    -FM

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  2. Fred Mertz says:

    Whoops. Problems this time around have been in the House, not the Senate. Must have had Billy Bulger in my head.

    -FM

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  3. Fred Mertz says:

    … though this thread suggests that the draft legislation coming from the Legislature is close to pretty good.

    http://www.bluemassgroup.com/diary/16075/ethics-reform-is-out-of-conference

    I do not know what the limits to contributions from lobbyists are, but it seems like there is no additional work in this area. That’s too bad.

    -FM

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