SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

March 2, 2013

Column: Jobs and the economy still a priority

Since the release of the governor’s budget, many have made their opposition known and fewer their support. As a way of background, I have written several columns explaining the negative impact of the governor’s proposal. In this column, I will examine what the voters think and how it compares to some of the thinking coming from our elected officials.

Let’s first examine what the governor said about the sentiment of the voters. During the governor’s State of the State speech on Jan. 16, he laid out his defense for why taxpayers should be responsible for his plan. The plan will cost nearly $10 billion over the next 10 years and is funded largely by an income tax increase of 19 percent and the elimination of numerous state tax deductions.

The governor stated, “Our citizens do not want less transportation. They want more.” This was followed by, “But this time, instead of sinking into the same old slogans, let’s have a serious, respectful, fact-based debate. The people we work for want the schools I have described; they want the rail and road services we have laid out; and above all they want the opportunity and growth these investments will bring us.”

Last Friday, according to the State House News Service, State Treasurer Steven Grossman said the state’s transportation needs are the “single biggest crisis.”

The governor, treasurer and several other elected officials seem to think that transportation needs are the paramount issue of our day. Rightly or wrongly, they are putting a lot of stock into transportation when all indicators show that focusing on jobs and economy seems to be the safest investment of political capital.

Here in Massachusetts, jobs and the economy are polling as one of the highest priorities on the minds of voters. Last month, WBUR published its poll done by MassINC Polling Group. Deep in the data, readers could learn that nearly 94 percent of voters believe improving the economy and jobs should be a high priority.

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