Patrick: Transparency for tax breaks
Giving out tax breaks to lure businesses is a common economic development tool in Massachusetts. Yet, up to now, residents have received no accounting of who's getting the breaks. Governor Patrick wisely wants to rectify that. His plan would require state agencies that administer refundable tax credits - credits that function as grants, because they are available even to firms with no tax liability in Massachusetts - to report annually the names of recipients, the size of the credits, and the number of jobs produced. The information hasn't been disclosed in the past because of laws intended to keep individual taxpayers' information private. But the programs covered by the governor's plan give out $200 million a year; a filmmaking tax credit alone costs the state $100 million. The public deserves to know where the money is going.
GOP: Grandstanding Or Posturing
Republican fiscal conservatives had little to say when their own party racked up record deficits amid a growing economy, but suddenly, amid a horrific slowdown, the GOP is all about budget restraint. So much so that, according to the Associated Press, a smattering of Republican governors may refuse some of the $787 billion federal stimulus package. Some of those governors - Alaska's Sarah Palin and Louisiana's Bobby Jindal - are thought to have presidential aspirations. Maybe future primary voters will reward them for their purity, but current constituents lose out in the meantime. Then again, the stimulus law does allow legislatures to claim the money even a governor refuses, so newfound deficit hawks can posture all they want without facing any consequences.
Burris: The Senate scandal that wont die
Illinois Senator Roland Burris had barely unpacked before his claim that he kept at arm's length from ex-governor Rod Blagojevich, who appointed him, began to unravel. Burris swore to Illinois lawmakers last month that he hadn't done any favors to secure the seat from Blagojevich, who had been caught on a federal wiretap trying to sell the seat in exchange for money or other tribute. Since then, Burris has been giving shifting explanations, including an admission that he was asked to raise money for Blagojevich, but since he didn't actually collect any, it doesn't count. Last week Burris said he wouldn't be answering anymore reporters' questions and "have facts drip out in selective sound bites." But the problem isn't the facts. Burris needs either to square his stories or to step down.