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Editorial ; Gov, Honk for Reform

Sep 16, 2007

We can now count Boston Mayor Tom Menino among the naysayers who are positively rending their garments over the possibility that Massachusetts drivers might ACTUALLY enjoy the benefits of (limited) competition for their business.

Menino joins the Nervous Nellies in the state Senate, who think the world might come to an end because Insurance Commissioner Nonnie Burnes is willing to release government's vise-like grip on auto insurance rates.

Burnes, of course, was hand-picked for the job by Gov. Deval Patrick. So where has he been?

Patrick has largely left it to Burnes to publicly defend her proposal, and that's fine.

But we would be mightily reassured if he would make some kind of bold public statement to back her up. Otherwise, be afraid, drivers - be very afraid.

Patrick's willingness to consider competition - even the so- called "managed competition" that Burnes has proposed - was a gargantuan leap forward for drivers and for the state's reputation as a reasonable place to write auto insurance policies.

Since Burnes' announcement, some major carriers have even signaled that they're willing to re-enter the Massachusetts market (35 have fled over the past decade-plus). And a slew of protections for urban and low-income drivers have been included in Burnes' proposal.

Still, Menino, Sen. Dianne Wilkerson (D-Boston) and others are bringing enormous pressure to bear on the administration to halt the reform proposal before it can take effect, on the assumption that their constituents will suffer most.

But now is not the time for the governor to go weak in the knees, to cave to the political pressure.

His commissioner's proposal is a reasonable one (we've even argued it could go a lot further) and he should be willing to defend it to the high heavens.

Menino, Wilkerson and other lawmakers on Beacon Hill may think they smell fear. It's up to the governor to clear the air quickly and unequivocally.

(c) 2007 Boston Herald. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.

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