Patrick has the authority to engineer the Beacon Hill pay cuts so they would have totaled three percent. He chose the easy way out, the politically expedient course. Rather than pushing for higher cuts, or — even more daring — a roll back of the legislature's 5.5 percent raise voted two years ago, the governor took the path of least resistance. He managed to sell it to most of the public and much of the press as a splendid thing. No doubt, Patrick has learned a thing or two in his first four years in the corner office.
Politics is certainly about compromise — grubby or otherwise. We're not going to suggest that salary cuts for the legislature of 0.5 percent or three percent or even 5.5 percent are going to make any material difference in fiscal terms. But the symbolism would have been extremely important. It would have been an incontrovertible statement of purpose: Beacon Hill not only understands your hurt, but is willing to taste some of it. That would have been leadership — on the governor's part if he had so moved, and by the legislature if it had responded with grace.
When pigs whistle, cynics will retort. But it is no unreasonable to suggest that it may take a couple of whistling pigs if Massachusetts is to minimize the pain of the next two years.
WAY TO GO, MURPH
A round of applause goes out to the newly elected Boston City Council president, Stephen Murphy of Hyde Park. Murphy has navigated the politics of the old and new Boston with skill and imagination. If he has had a secret weapon it is this: his capacity for growth. In recent years, the Phoenix has been with Murphy on the issues perhaps more often than we have been against him. Outgoing president Mike Ross set a high standard for any successor; we wish Murphy good luck as he picks up the reins in these challenging times.
: The Editorial Page
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