|The news on Beacon Hill continues to revolve around Deval Patrick and what has become an embarrassing series of rookie mistakes. Patrick continues to hold his support in poles, but many insiders are wondering if he has the ability to transfer his impeccable campaign skills to governing. Patrick’s call last week on behalf of Ameriquest adds to the Cadillac, the drapes and the $72,000 scheduler for his wife. A far more substantive issue is the governor’s first budget. With a projected $1.3 billion dollar shortfall, program cuts were essential, some of which disappointed the governor’s core constituency while at the same time the governor raised the specter of tax hikes for the business community. The governor did have good news last week as has worked continuously with health insurers to help create a coverage plan under the new Mass Health plan which will cost less than $200 a month. While the Cadillac story simply will not go away, the potential to provide insurance for every citizen of the Commonwealth is significant news and the governor deserves some credit for it.
The Legislature is once again revisiting its broadcasting requirements. Both the House and the Senate, now joined by the Patrick Administration, are looking for ways to make state government more transparent and to increase and improve the broadcast of the legislative sessions. Expect some action during this calendar year with the possibility that one cable digital station may be dedicated to covering the Massachusetts legislature.
Congressman Marty Meehan is expected to resign his seat and become president of the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. Meehan has served for fifteen years in the Congress and after many years to the minority has gained a key subcommittee chairmanship on the House Armed Services Committee. Three potential candidates, all of them state senators from the core of Meehan’s district, have already removed themselves from consideration, Senator Steven Panagiotakos from Lowell, Senator Susan Tucker from the North Andover / Lawrence area and Senator Steven Baddour from Methuen have all announced that they will not seek the seat in the event that it becomes available. Nicki Tsongas, Paul Tsongas’ widow is considered to be a contender as are numerous state legislators and various city councilors. Meehan’s decision to leave the Congress became easier after John Kerry announced that he would not seek the presidency and would run for reelection to the Senate. Meehan with a nearly $5 million campaign committee have long eyed a seat in the United States Senate. With Kerry’s announcement that he will run for reelection and Senator Kennedy, apparently prepared to serve until his demise, it appears that Meehan’s political options were limited.