Editorial: State control
Massachusetts residents are told that the state’s annual budget process is one of compromise. The governor, Senate and House each submit their individual proposals and then try to convince each other which should prevail when it comes to differences on spending.
A storied tradition, you might call it, one straight out of the process playbooks.
But the end result is more than how much taxpayer money is paying for programs and services in the state.
Bottom line, it indicates who actually controls the purse strings. And the envelope is going to ... the Legislature.
We say this because it appears that Gov. Deval Patrick is not going to get his wish when it comes to a new transportation funding scheme for the state.
This year, the governor presented a long-term plan for public transportation, one that sought to raise plenty of new revenue — $1 billion — to pay for it.
But both the Legislature’s branches answered that idea in the same way: Not so fast.
Instead they cut what Patrick wanted in half.
Round One to the Legislature.
The governor has countered the Legislature’s offer, saying there’s a shortfall of $135 million that wasn’t taken into account. This loss of money would come about if tolls west of the Interstate 95 interchange in Weston are eliminated, as scheduled on Jan. 1, 2017. Patrick then sent an amendment to the Legislature asking for a correction.
“... I cannot accept less than $800 million and further compromise the needs of our transportation system,’’ Patrick said. “And I will not tell people that this bill raises $800 million for transportation when it doesn’t.”
The Legislature’s reaction? Again, not so fast.
House and Senate leaders won’t ask their colleagues to vote on the matter until next week, after the deadline for the governor to sign the budget. The excuse is that if there are any budget vetoes from the governor, lawmakers can address all the issues at once. Whether or not there are vetoes to address, everything indicates that lawmakers aren’t going to add more money to transportation.
And, should the governor push for more transportation money with a veto, there appear to be enough votes in both the House and Senate to override such a move.
Round Two and Match to the Legislature, which leaves the governor and his transportation vision on the side of the road.