, Salem, MA

November 27, 2012

Our view: Don't stop pushing for reform

The Salem News

---- — For those who were busy around the Thanksgiving holiday, it’s worth noting that state officials are once again talking about raising taxes as we head into the new year.

First, there was the news that the Patrick administration may seek to increase the gas tax as a way of gathering “new revenue” (i.e., more of your money) to spend on the state’s transportation system, as last year’s reforms, which included steep fare hikes, did not solve its deficit or infrastructure woes.

And yesterday, The Boston Globe reported that the economic recovery may have leveled off here in Massachusetts, leading some to predict a push for a tax hike to stave off budget cuts.

While there is room for discussion of new revenues in any debate over future state spending — especially when it comes to transportation infrastructure — we disagree with those officials who say there is little more to be gained from government reforms.

One needs only look to the other piece of bad news that surfaced around the holiday: Sheila Burgess, the state highway safety director, had a driving record that would make a teenager blush, with 34 incidents, including seven accidents, four speeding violations and two failures to stop for a police officer. Burgess, a former Democratic fundraiser, had no relevant experience when she has hired for the $87,000-a-year job in 2007.

How can voters trust lawmakers who say more tax money is needed while their friends are stashed on the state payroll?

Burgess has since resigned, but voters should remember her story the next time their legislators talk about budget cuts and the limits of reform.