Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Budget Situation Bad

How bad? Well, let's look at Swampscott.

My hometown didn't even bother posting bonds for a 7.7 million dollar payment when the state, after agreeing to years ago, refused to pony up. So we had to take out a loan.

Worse yet, already facing a deficit of nearly $1.5 million dollars, our town administrator was told by Lt. Governor Murray to expect another $500,000 in cuts.

When asked what the state would do to allow towns to raise revenue, Murray essentially said, 'um, well, your unions could have passed GIC.' Thanks, guys! With an Oct. 1 deadline, that'll really help. The state has done almost nothing to help local towns on the GIC/health care front - less than 10 towns have chosen to participate in the program. Either the state should mandate it or shut up about it. However, it shouldn't keep pushing it as a reasonable measure when it's nearly impossible to get town unions on board. I'm as pro union as it gets, but at some point we have to worry about our kids more than our progressive principals.

There's no other help, either. While the state passed the ability for local communities to tax telephone polls, it's being held up in the courts. There was no word on trying to get the state legislature to pass a measure that would allow towns to vote to tax restaurants and hotels at 1 or 2%, which would raise hundreds of thousands or millions for most cities and towns. Swampscott, for example, would earn over $350,000 a year from a 2% meals tax.

Let the record be clear: just cutting aid and funding to get back in the black is completely irresponsible, even when facing Question 1 on the ballot. Our state cannot afford these cuts. If Patrick is playing games afraid to rock the vote before Nov 4., he needs to realize that this state will face a permanent and irreversible disaster to its public education system. Once schools shut their doors, they don't come back. Swampscott will now almost certainly close its second school in three years, with average class sizes rising to over 34, unless something drastic changes. We need solutions, not political games. Real lives are at stake here.

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