If there is one thing that I have learned during my first term representing you on Beacon Hill, it’s that things don’t always appear as they seem and that the legislative process can be a real head scratcher.
Witness recently when Governor Deval Patrick vetoed a transportation bill that significantly raised taxes on gas, cigarettes and computer software.
Vetoing legislation that unfairly increases these types of taxes, especially on working people, while making things even harder for state border communities here in the Merrimack Valley appeared to be the right thing to do, right?
It did to me. That’s why when these tax raising measures came before the House I voted not once, but twice, against the increases.
Unfortunately, the House still passed the tax hikes. The first time it passed by a vote of 97 to 55. The Senate then voted to increase revenues even more, and returned their version of this tax package back to the House for a vote. This time the tax package passed by an even larger margin of 105 to 47. In the Senate it passed by a whopping 35 to only 5.
Notice a trend here?
But could my constituents take comfort because the governor vetoed the tax hikes? No, because the governor did not veto them to protect the working people in my border communities from another tax hike. He vetoed the hikes because he wanted a bill that raised these taxes even more. Specifically, he was battling for the gas tax to go up about 3 to 4 cents per gallon.
That’s just crazy, isn’t it? I think so. But it would have been crazier if the legislature had another chance to raise these taxes even higher for the governor to enact. So, of course I voted to override Governor Patrick’s veto that would have allowed this.
Shocking to me, however, was that some of the people who voted with me against these tax hikes, actually voted with the governor to help sustain his veto. Now, this was the craziest thing of all for me to witness out of this whole scenario.
How could this be and what were they thinking?
Well, these folks argue, that had the governor’s veto been sustained then the tax hikes would not have been enacted.
The upward, spiraling trend was clear folks. Every time there was a proposed increase, as the numbers show, the House passed it with even more votes. The governor wanted another bite at the apple and I was not about to let that happen. Had his veto been sustained, the House — that overwhelmingly approved the original tax hikes — would have passed new legislation to raise the gas tax by even more. That is why I voted to override the governor’s veto.
Beacon Hill can be a lot of smoke and mirrors, I am learning. Back home in the Merrimack Valley, however, things are clear as day. Our communities don’t deserve more obstacles and political games. They deserve an honest answer, a level playing field and a fair shot. That’s why I am committed to fighting for you as your state representative and it’s why I opposed these newly enacted tax hikes.