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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Unhappy new year

So, would you rather layoff firefighters or eliminate home care services for elders?

That's the unpleasant choice facing elected officials as the state looks to cut another $1 billion in spending in the current fiscal year. That's on top of $1.4 billion already axed this year and coming with the fiscal year half over likely to hurt even more than the first round.

And that also doesn't begin to consider what cuts are going to be needed for the fiscal 2010 budget Gov. Deval Patrick is scheduled to unveil in January.

State officials are saying local aid is going to be on the chopping block, much to the dismay of mayors and selectboards that will need to pare back in midyear. The only way to make those sorts of slashes is personnel -- police, firefighters and teachers.

As Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation boss Mike Widmer summed it up:
“It’s going to be a triple whammy. Homeowners will see their property taxes go up, the value of their homes go down and their services will be cut.”
Of course, you could also cut more deeply into human services and spread the pain beyond the mental health services that have already felt the knife.

The call for taxes is rising quickly, with new local option meals taxes and a bump in the sales tax the most prominent targets. But that won't be easy because, as Widmer points out, the pressure on the property tax will also be enormous.

It will be interesting to see how the Legislature reacts to Patrick's renewed request for "9C" powers that will allow him to make unilateral cuts without waiting for legislative approval.

The governor, in effect, is looking to shoulder the entire political fallout in exchange for the ability to act quickly. I'm not sure whether he should be applauded or asked to stop at a sobriety checkpoint on his way home.

Despite all the gloom and doom, a Happy New Year to what has becoming a growing set of readers. As always, thanks for stopping by!

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Blogger Life On Planet Patricia said...

I'd rather see police give up that boondoogle they have when they stand around construction sites and manhole covers. Even if they just protected themselves from layoff that would be ... oh, who am I kidding... that will never be.

Happy new year to the rest of us who have to suck it up.

January 07, 2009 8:35 AM  

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