< .comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Competitive pressures

Like a child with an appetite larger than its stomach, Massachusetts' elected officials think they can have it all -- somehow.

Witness today's front page Globe -- "83 school districts lose in aid plan", sitting right atop "Patrick vows to build Southeast Mass. rail line". Throw in the Herald's "Patrick says help is on the way for Hub" and the scope of the problem is clear: so many needs, so little money.

The solution? From best as I can tell, magic.

The school aid solution is easy, if the funding issue is not: hold communities harmless and give them what they expected from the Patrick plan, whether or not they were premature is setting their budgets. And shame on House Education Committee Chair Patricia Haddad of Fall River for trying to pass this off as a math error by the Patrick administration.

The proposal for Southeastern Massachusetts rail service is tougher. The South Coast is a basket base: unemployment is 8 percent in Fall River and 9.2 percent in New Bedford, compared with the state average of 5.3 percent.

The Patrick Administration's plan, which even they admit has a pie-in-the-sky element, is to use the rail line to generate jobs and taxes. The federal government would fund a piece of that pie too. Win-win, they think.
"If we generate 15,000 new jobs along the corridor, new state revenues from existing taxes . . . would pay that annual cost," said Transportation Secretary Bernard Cohen. "Is that going to happen? We're going to try to make it happen."
And the federal government, after sinking billions in the Big Pig, is going to look at more money for Massachusetts for rail? Even a 3-D Washington leadership may have a hard time swallowing that one.

Merited or not, that plan also needs to face up to the cold reality the state doesn't have the cash to pay for what it now has. Although the Herald floats the obvious solution, casinos, the will is about as strong there as it is to overhaul that tax code to make it fair, equitable and capable of meeting our growing needs.

We need to make our eyes match our stomachs and either cut out dreams or get serious about paying for what we want.

Labels: , , ,


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home