The governor called yesterday as part of the full-court press he has on the transportation/tax package. Much of what he said is here.
I’ll have a lot more to say on the standoff between Gov. Patrick and the leaders of the Legislature in my column tomorrow.
Of local note: In the call to me, in an earlier statewide conference call with reporters, and in the statement he read Thursday responding to the Democratic leadership’s weak proposal, Gov. Patrick specifically mentioned depressing the commuter rail grade crossings in downtown Framingham. “It’s a capacity issue,” he said. “It’s got to be done.”
I asked him whether that was a commitment, or whether he just wanted to make it look like everyone’s wishes would come true if his plan was approved. “No,” he said. “This is not just an aggregated wish list.” The only reason the Framingham project wasn’t being discussed with more specificity is they don’t have cost estimates yet, but they’ve started doing test borings and are working on it.
Anyone who’s been around Framingham for awhile has ample reason to be skeptical about a project always dismissed as pie-in-the-sky. There are reasons it’s more possible today than a few years ago (for one thing, the state has bought the tracks from CSX). But the issue has been talked about for more than a century, and Patrick’s is the strongest commitment from a governor it’s ever received.
I wasn’t surprised that Patrick called us. It’s one of the things governors do, especially this governor. And I wasn’t surprised that nobody from the other side seemed to be making any effort to win public support for the DeLeo/Murray plan. That’s not what they do. Governors do things in public; Beacon Hill legislators do everything they can in private. Governors have press conferences. House Speakers have closed caucuses with their members. And Democratic reps and senators, for the most part, are working hard to avoid taking a position.
The next week may the most interesting of the year on Beacon Hill.