EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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Opinion

November 1, 2006

Healey for governor

The intelligent vote in Massachusetts next Tuesday is for Kerry Healey for governor.

While her yapping opponents attempt to be all things to all people, Healey is the only candidate who promises to keep the state and its cities and towns on an even fiscal keel. Her position on all manner of social issues, whether it's the death penalty and stem cell research (in favor), or gay marriage and in-state tuition for illegal immigrants (opposed), puts her squarely in the mainstream of public opinion statewide.

The Republican candidate is right on the money, too, when she talks about the buzz heard on Beacon Hill over the prospect of having a Democrat in the corner office. We can hear it as well.

Don't kid yourself. There is no possible way Deval Patrick can fulfill the promises made to the public employee unions and various special interest groups without raising taxes. And anyone who believes that by refusing the voters' mandate to lower the income tax rate, Patrick and his fellow Democrats can lower your property taxes, is simply not living in the real world.

Healey promises to maintain the fiscal discipline imposed by the current governor, Mitt Romney, that turned a crippling budget deficit into a surplus - one the Democratic legislature is determined to spend as quickly as possible. The thought of returning that money to the taxpayers who earned it doesn't even enter lawmakers' minds.

"The only way to rein in spending on Beacon Hill is to take the money off the table," Healey told Eagle-Tribune editors during a meeting last week. And she's right.

Patrick and the legislative leadership would defy the 2000 voter mandate to reduce the income tax rate from the current 5.3 percent to 5 percent. They need that money - and a lot more - to fund the millions of dollars worth of earmarked spending legislators approved earlier this year over Romney's veto, along with the estimated $8 billion worth of new programs contained in the Patrick plan for the Bay State.

Healey promises to be tough on crime, tough on taxes and tough on a state regulatory system that has made Massachusetts among the most difficult places in the nation to do business. You can expect just the opposite if the Democrats assume complete control of state government.

We suspect Patrick would rather avoid having to provide direct answers to the questions Healey has raised about his spending plans and willingness to bend to the will of the voters on important issues like the sanctity of Proposition 21/2. He prefers the distractions offered by independent Christy Mihos and Green-Rainbow Party candidate Grace Ross to the challenge of a one-on-one debate of the issues sought by his Republican opponent.

Healey has no such qualms about direct debate, nor would she have any problem challenging the Legislature on taxes and other pocketbook issues. Voters have a choice of keeping the state on a steady course by electing Healey, or risking the wild ride Patrick's candidacy represents.

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