No More Political Cover
This is an instructive episode:
A House vote to raise the state’s cigarette tax by $1 a pack — to what would be the highest level in the nation — was aborted at the last minute yesterday after Republican Governor Carcieri yanked his support from his own tax-raising proposal.
Carcieri’s eleventh-hour move was announced by a visibly annoyed House Finance Committee Chairman Steven Costantino on the House floor, the unexpected development punctuated by this uncharacteristic utterance by House Speaker William J. Murphy: “Get it out of here!”
Earlier in the day, Murphy had said raising the cigarette tax “doesn’t bother me” because people choose to smoke.
It appears that the General Assembly Democrats would very much like to raise taxes as a way out of their personal-special-interest-debt conundrum… but not without cover. I say that the governor should finally learn this lesson: Go for the conservative gold and declare that anything less is the full property of the legislature. Make them wear it. Make them fight for every ounce of political cover that he’s willing to give as part of negotiations.
Meanwhile, remind them that the clock is ticking and that the bomb is on their desk.