For John, BLUF: We don't understand all we know about new revenue bill. Nothing to see here; just move along.
The [Lowell] Sun, on Wednesday, had a State House News Service item by Matt Murphy and Michael Norton, "Rep: Patrick using 'scare tactics' on road-project warning".♠ The gist of it seems to be that the Governor vetoed "a $500 million tax bill that will dedicate $805 million in new spending to finance-transportation investments over the next five years."
Then Governor Patrick's veto was overridden by the Legislature.♥ From this bill we will get a three cent a gallon hike in gas taxes and an increase of one dollar on a pack of cigs.♦
My problem with the first article is that it throws out four different numbers,♣ several times, but never ties them all together. To be fair, the on-line version of the article is much better than the version on Page 2 of the dead tree edition of The Sun. Missing is the cost of the toll takers along the Turnpike. Also missing is the question of if they will go into a thriving economy or become additions to the welfare roles. How many will be able to retire?
As sort of a side issue is the environmental impact of tolls, in terms of cars having to slow down and speed up, not to mention idling as people wait to pay tolls.
And what are we getting for $161 million a year in terms of improvements to our transportation infrastructure? There is the mention of the MBTA, which seems to be one of the ways the rest of the Commonwealth underwrites Boston. They need to replace cars that are 35 to 45 years old.
And, there is talk of 480 new buses, which I bet cost at least a million a piece and more with accoutrements, spare parts packages and simple graft.
There is a lot yet to learn about what is going on down on Beacon Hill.
Regards — Cliff
♠ Remember, articles in The [Lowell] Sun go away after a while, to a different place. I will not be updating their links unless I am bedridden and have read every book in the house. And, besides, the Editor tells me the links cost money after a few weeks. It is the new business model.
♥ From the second story, "The House voted 123-33 to override Patrick's veto. The Senate followed a short time later, voting 35-5 to override."
♦ Is there anyone out there who wonders if there is a tipping point on cigarette taxes, beyond which people just start smuggling cigs into our Commonwealth. From my time living in the Naples, Italy, area, in the 1970s, I know that cigarette smuggling can be big business. In Canada it is a $1.5 Billion dollar a year business. I also know that cigarettes, as in Post-War Berlin, can be a form of currency.
♣ We still owe $70 million on the Turnpike. The tax bill is for $500 million (per annum, one assumes). There is $805 in new construction over the next five years, which averages out at $161 per annum. Then there is $135 million in lost tolls from the Turnpike, if the Turnpike debt is retired and the road is in good condition.