Thursday evening, while the Swampscott Republican Town Committee was electing delegates to the state convention, Deval Patrick issued his State of the State address. Apparently the address was mostly short on specifics, but the Governor made news none the less. Per Deval Patrick, there will be no reduction in local aid and contrary to my statement relative to a lack of specificity, he again pledged to reduce or bring local property taxes under control. His pledge to level fund local aid has to have gotten the attention of his fellow Democrats in the Legislature, for no other reason than he has challenged them to cobble together their view of fy 2011 without compromising local aid. My best guess is that DeLeo, Murray et al may not appreciate the grandstanding. As a former local official, I certainly hope Patrick can deliver on his promise, but in the absence of substantial reform such as legislation that would allow local officials to craft health insurance plan design without the constraints of collective bargaining, has he not set himself up for an epic budget confrontation with his own party? It’s further remarkable, and maybe irresponsible, that Deval again is making a promise to bring property taxes under control. Given the fact that the vast majority of local municipal budgets are made up of salaries and associated benefits, it is impossible for me to imagine how this promise is any easier to make happen without major concessions from labor, one of the constituencies he needs to get reelected. Perhaps his friend the President has promised him that there will be another stimulus package or perhaps he is counting on a major economic rebound or perhaps he is throwing the ultimate Hail Mary pass knowing that his unfavorables are in the toilet and he has nothing to lose. Or perhaps he is not running.
Today I read on the other blog that Grace Ross may run for Governor as a Democrat, hopefully setting up a primary challenge for those of us that want specifics from a man that has communicated none. I hardly view Ms. Ross as a serious challenge to the Governor, but a challenging voice in a primary would require the Governor to add specifics to his big picture view of fy 2011, a view that is impossible to achieve unless he gets real about spending reform, a place thus far that he won’t go.
So there you have it. Promises to all and specifics for none. A speech that on its face probably pisses off any friend he has left in the Legislature and a speech that is nothing short of an impossible dream sans a Doug Flutie like Hail Mary pass.
The man may have put himself on an island with a less that adequate level of life sustaining provisions. He may now be running against his own party, Grace Ross, Baker, Mihos, Cahill, and anyone else that thinks he is full of bull. Or could he be moving to DC. It’s easier to sell books when you do not have on your resume a crushing defeat that included self inflicted and politically life threatening wounds.