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Patrick’s legacy
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Opinion page editor Rick Holmes and other writers blog about national politics and issues. Holmes & Co. is a Blog for Independent Minds, a place for a free-flowing discussion of policy, news and opinion. This blog is the online cousin of the Opinion ...
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Opinion page editor Rick Holmes and other writers blog about national politics and issues. Holmes & Co. is a Blog for Independent Minds, a place for a free-flowing discussion of policy, news and opinion. This blog is the online cousin of the Opinion section of the MetroWest Daily News in Framingham, Mass. As such, our focus starts there and spreads to include Massachusetts, the nation and the world. Since successful blogs create communities of readers and writers, we hope the \x34& Co.\x34 will also come to include you.
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By Rick Holmes
July 4, 2013 12:01 a.m.



Transportation financing has been described as Deval Patrick’s legacy, sometimes with a roll of the eyes.  But there’s not much of an ego boost in repairing roads, bridges and budgetary black holes. But transportation is a real problem (a report this week ranked Massachusetts 43rd in road conditions), it’s been on the state’s to-do list for a long time, and Patrick is getting around to doing it, in his second-to-last year in office.

Patrick is a practical executive with a streak of idealism, and he appended to his transportation package provisions making the tax code more progressive, a commitment to regional equity, and investments targeted at bringing jobs to the state’s poorer places.  These were promptly stripped out of the legislation by Democratic leaders in the Legislature, who aren’t retiring at the end of next year, don’t think transportation is a billion-dollar problem (Boston’s doing OK, after all), and care more about taxes than legacies.

The current standoff over transportation is familiar. Patrick and the Legislature went at it over transportation and ethics reforms in 2009, and over casinos in 2010. When the music stops, Patrick usually comes away with a compromise he can describe as a victory.

You can make a strong case that Deval Patrick is the best governor Massachusetts has had since Mike Dukakis – and maybe more effective than the Duke.  But there’s never been much affection for him on Beacon Hill, nor much fear of the consequences of crossing him.  Now that he’s a lame duck, there’s even less.

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