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State Budget Crisis Hits Holliston

by William Dowd

State Budget “Crisis” Causes Local Alarm

Note: The author is a member of the Holliston Finance Committee. The opinions expressed here are his alone and should in no way be attributed to the Finance Committee.

Once again, in the midst of an alleged “revenue shortfall” at the State level, local officials here in Holliston and across the State have received a call to arms to protect local aid dollars received from the State budget. Lame Duck Governor Deval Patrick has asked the legislature to give him the authority to cut local aid in the middle of the year after all city and town budgets have already been nailed down.

Let’s stop and think about this. Governor Patrick spends almost $600 million on a health insurance website – most of it written off as failure, and it’s still not working. Governor Patrick spends almost another $400 million to put people who could pay for their health insurance into the State’s Medicaid program. That’s almost $1 billion or THREE TIMES what the Governor is now trying top cover, and he wants us to pay for all these mistakes again through local aid cuts.

It’s small consolation that Governor Patrick is through. The legislature should deny Patrick this request, and let Governor Baker take a shot at real fixes to the perennial and provocative waste of our money in State government. As we learn more every day from MIT Professor Gruber about how “stupid” we are, and how the solution to difficult problems is to hide the truth from voters, deceive regulators with complex legislative wording and “rip off” taxpayers with fraudulent use of Federal and/or State tax dollars, let's make sure it doesn’t happen again.

I hope you’ll contact Rep. Dykema and Sen. Spilka and make clear to them that you’re not willing to suffer the loss of local educational and government services because of the Governor’s and the legislature’s complete lack of fiscal discipline and accountability. Be sure to tell them that you are not stupid, you’re tired of being “ripped off” and integrity matters, even in a State dominated by Democrats.

Please – make the calls!

Comments (6)

Thanks to Carolyn for her detailed response regarding errors in prior messages. I have heard that correcting their "facts" doesn't change people's opinions, and now I see it in action.

So tired of the blame-game | 2014-11-24 07:03:31

When are the democrats going to stop blaming the republicans for every thing that doesn't go their way and start taking some of the blame in this country? Deval Patrick spends like a drunken soldier, it's not wonder he's cutting local aid. He had to have his office done over at the tune of what, $11.3 million dollars! Did you not notice that the country just went mostly conservative in the last election? Wake up! Start taking some of the blame for the Economy democrats!

Sick and tired of Massachusetts democrats | 2014-11-23 15:06:09

Dear All, Thanks for the opportunity to respond to several of the comments made. Most important, I fully appreciate the difficult financial situation our towns are in and I do not support, nor will I vote in favor of, local aid cuts proposed by the Governor. It is worth noting that the most dramatic decreases in local aid, which are referenced in one of the comments below, occurred under Gov Romney. While we have worked on building local aid levels back up, effects of the 2003 cuts are still being felt. The Boston Convention Center funding, which passed with support of both parties for its economic/jobs potential, comes from tourism funds already dedicated specifically to the Convention Center (since 1997) and not from funds that would otherwise support state programs. I am very concerned to read the inaccurate statement that the legislature is proposing to pass pay raises without accountability. The truth is that a commission is reviewing legislative pay and will be releasing a very public report. For the record, I don't support legislative pay raises nor would I allow one to pass without being recorded in opposition. Healthy debate of these issues is important, and it's also important to make sure that one is sharing accurate information. Thank you "Confused" for your thoughts on providing the public with more information. Other than responses to specific questions, I do not recall any prior rep offering updates at town meeting, mostly due to full TM agendas. I do put together regular newsletter with information (I'll gladly add your email to the distribution) and perhaps I can do a better job presenting information on local cable. If any of you have suggestions on how best to get the word out in a convenient way, I'd appreciate them. I also try to put as much information as possible on my FB page. We are in challenging times, but I do my best to listen to your concerns and balance the needs of our communities with investments, especially infrastructure investments, that have the possibility of improving the future economic situation for all of us. ~Carolyn

Carolyn Dykema | 2014-11-22 09:12:35

Can our state rep and/or senator please speak at our annual and fall town meetings about the current status of the state budget and what they are doing to fight against waste on the state level and restore funding for vital local services? The previous state rep. did this every year at the annual in May if not at both town meetings. Can they explain why they are so proud of $750,000 going to a rail trail purchase when we can't fund other initiatives that we collectively believe are much important. What are our representatives at the state house doing to restore fiscal sanity in the state budget? Carolyn Dykema is a great person, no argument here. But what has she done to represent the taxpayers of Holliston and hold the state accountable? Why does she avoid updating us about the state budget at town meeting when our previous state rep. did it?

Confused | 2014-11-21 22:31:37

Michelle Zeamer | 2014-11-21 07:44:18

In FY14, Governor Patrick made $200M in emergency 9C cuts right around the same time as now. By the end of FY14, despite finishing with $570M over benchmark (expected revenue to the state), only 10% of those cuts were restored. Now, in FY15, the Governor is about to make the same cuts, including the $25M in Local Aid that was finally increased after years of underfunding (yet adding millions in new mandates). In fact, Local Aid has been cut by 53% since '01. Question: Do our legislator support spending elsewhere, like $1.2B to expand the Boston Convention Center that is losing millions each year, or does she think cuts to our vital services should have been prioritized? The Legislature is now attempting to pass across the board pay raises for elected officials during an "informal session" where no roll call (accountability) is required. Do they really think that they deserve a raise?

Marty Lamb | 2014-11-21 07:02:14