Globe headline this morning: Patrick hints he will sign tax hike.
Well knock me over with a feather!
This headline - or one much like it - became inevitable on election night 2006, when the voters decided to go with Patrick's gossamer promises and soaring rhetoric over common sense and basic math.
Throughout his campaign against Kerry Healey (my friend and former boss - biases right out here on my sleeve), Patrick pledged all things to all people, piling up hundreds of millions in proposed new spending. Pressed to reconcile his grandiose ambitions with his adamant denial of plans to raise taxes, Patrick unleashed his patented brow furrow, and blithely asserted that his plans would be funded through "efficiencies in government."
Once safely ensconced in office, Patrick dropped the subterfuge and became what he is: a tax-and-spender. The drapes and the Caddy were just the surface. Instead of "finding efficiencies" he added thousands to the state workforce. Instead of "making government do more with less," he increased his own staff and inflated their salaries by tens of thousands (each) over what his predecessor's staff was paid. Instead of "changing the culture on Beacon Hill" he embraced it - hiring a sketchy Big Dig lobbyist to run Transportation Department (and the Big Dig), and doling out patronage appointments like a 30 year legislator.
"I have no plans to raise taxes" quickly gave way to a billion dollars in new levies on the Commonwealth's businesses. His adamant campaign pledge to reduce property taxes morphed first into "openness" to a gas tax hike, and then into dogged advocacy for giving us the highest gas tax in the nation.
So no, it is not a surprise that this morning the Globe tells us that Governor Patrick is about to hit all of us with yet another cool billion in new taxes.
Patrick is fortunate to have the economic downturn to shield him from blame for his blatant reneging on crystal clear campaign promises, but that too is disingenuous. Patrick was inflating the state work force, signing budgets far in excess of reasonable revenue expectations and sliding comfortably into the "Beacon Hill culture" long before hard economic reality took a nosedive.
He had us firmly on the road back to Taxachusetts from day one. The downturn just pushed things along a little faster.