By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – Gov. Deval Patrick gave his next-to-last state of the state speech Wednesday night, and as state-of-the-state speeches go, this was an especially memorable one.

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

Like any big-time political speech, it contained both persuasive rhetoric and dubious spin. And a quick sampling of both may be a guide to what lies ahead for his sweeping tax and spending proposals.

Let’s start with the good news. When the governor talks about the importance of opportunity, he’s always on solid ground, as someone who came up from humble origins and as a proponent of government’s role in fostering the American dream.

“Opportunity requires growth, and growth requires investment,” he said Wednesday night as an argument for improving public transportation and education, and there’s no disputing it.

He was especially on-point talking about the importance of making it easier for people to get to where the jobs and the affordable housing are.

So while you can rightly question whether more money is the right fix for what ails our schools and transit systems, it’s hard to argue that those aren’t worthy investments.

But the governor has a tougher sell in store for his proposed tax changes.

The reason our overwhelmingly Democratic legislature has mostly declined to raise taxes in recent years is they believe tax hikes could hurt economic growth and cost us jobs. But even as he called for a huge jump in the income tax, the governor didn’t bother to address that concern.

And does anyone believe the same legislature that took heat for approving a sales tax hike four years ago will now vote for a deep cut in it? I thought businesses were craving tax certainty before they start growing. Now the tax climate looks less certain than ever.

In any case, the governor is doing his job, leading as best he can in an inarguably bold way.

But the true test of leadership is in the answer to this question — will anyone follow?

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. and 12:25 p.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.


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