Greg Roach's Berkshires Blog
Monday, March 02, 2009
  Spreading Burdens versus Paying Your Fair Share
I notice that the Governor did not come to our house, even though my wife contacted his office with her thoughts on the proposed $.19/gallon gas tax.
SPRINGFIELD - To gather support for his proposed 19-cent gas tax hike, Governor Deval Patrick launched a statewide campaign yesterday in the home of a woman who had called the idea "unconscionable."

Sitting in front of a fireplace in Teresita Alicea's home, Patrick blamed the need for the gas tax hike on a failure by previous administrations to address a looming transportation funding crisis.

"Our grandparents sacrificed with less income to build this infrastructure," Patrick said. "We're asking for the equivalent of a large cup of coffee a week to maintain it for the next generation. I don't think that's unreasonable."
OK. You drink the expensive stuff at Starbucks. What's your point?
He said that given the number of trips he has made to Western Massachusetts - Patrick has a home in the Berkshires - he felt comfortable striking at the knee-jerk criticism among many in the area who consider any funding for transportation to be unfairly charging them for the Big Dig.

"We're going to have to get past . . . policy-making [based] on regional grievance," Patrick said. "And I say that among friends. I think my western Massachusetts bonafides are sound."
Look - It's nice when the Guv walks in our parades. It's great that he even acknowledge we exist, unlike his predecessor. It's even better that he owns property out here. BUT A country estate built with a personal fortune so he could claim residency to run for governor does not give him "bonafides." Until he actually lives here, rather than "weekend in the Berkshires", saying something so clueless will get him the same reaction I give the summer tourists who wonder why all the stores close at 6pm.

The fact is that the rural 1/3 of the state has already paid for the Big Dig via infrastructure neglect for the past 20+ years. We do not use the Big Dig. Our gasoline is already far more expensive than the rest of the state. Our average incomes are lower than the rest of the state. We drive farther to buy things like underwear, groceries and GAS than the rest of the state. Some of us actually need those awful gas guzzling 4 x 4's because we live in the hills. Our economy has been in a borderline recession for the past generation. And the list goes on....

We are not Boston or the 'burbs. The Berkshires and other rural areas have very little economy of scale when it comes to infrastructure, etc... Unlike eastern Massachusetts, we CANNOT maintain ours without the pittance of the state budget we get from Boston. We certainly do not even dream of projects like the Big Dig (well, not since the Hoosac Tunnel was completed in 1875).

How in the heck can it be justified that Berkshire County pay for the debt service on Boston's tunnel? This plan asks those with the least to pay a higher percentage of their incomes than those with the most.

You'll have to pardon me if I stick to my so-called regional grievance and only buy the cheap coffee.
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