Will Deval Patrick Spike The Pike?

(Only Nixon could go to China…. – promoted by Cool Cal)

What a difference a fiscal crisis makes! Governor Deval Patrick is suggesting that the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority be placed on the chopping block as one of many proposals designed to deal with the Bay State's current budget shortfall. House Speaker Sal DiMasi & State Senate President Therese Murray issued a joint statement which signaled their support for the plan. Hey – better late than never.

By January, Patrick said he wants legislation crafted to dismantle the cash-strapped Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, a move that could eventually amount to relief for drivers who pay tolls, he said. He declined to detail how much money could be saved by eliminating the agency or reforming the state and MBTA pension system.

But David Tuerck, director of the Beacon Hill Institute, said the state could save $60 million a year if the Pike was dismantled and merged with another department. And Patrick has a better shot at success than former Gov. Mitt Romney, who tried and failed to scrap the Pike, a “patronage haven,” Tuerck said.

“The state is in a fiscal crisis. That’s going to put some heat on the Legislature to start saving money and overcome the political obstacles to a move like this,” he said.

Mass Pike Executive Director Alan LeBovidge says he supports Patrick’s plan. “I believe it’s a good next step,” he said. “I was brought in to focus on reform.”

Under a merger, LeBovidge would lose his job as Pike director.

“That’s life,” he said.

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