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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Sunday, January 25, 2009

And so it begins

The opening salvo in the traditional charge-counter charge budget "debate" has been fired with the Globe's story today that "thousands" of police, firefighters and teachers will be eliminated to make up for more than $500 million in local aid cuts coming this calendar year.

I expect the comment section will be loaded with allegations that state and local budgets are larded with waste and all of this doom and gloom is unnecessary and just an effort to justify tax increases.

Expect Howie Carr to weigh in indignantly in tomorrow's Herald, and be joined by Barbara Anderson in his radio show.

Is there waste in public budgets? Yes. No matter how earnest (or not) public officials are in trimming the fat, stuff, as Don Rumsfeld said, happens.

Is there $500 million -- a half-billion dollars -- larded through the state and 351 cities and town budgets? That stretches credibility.

Are laying out the facts a first step toward a tax increase? Probably. But what taxes and by how much remain very much a mystery at this point. We may get a clearer view when Gov. Deval Patrick spells out the details of both his mid-year "9C" cuts and the fiscal 2010 budget later this week.

And let's not forget that all the uncertainty about the future job prospects of House Speaker Sal DiMasi must enter the equation. DiMasi has been open to a gasoline tax to deal with transportation issues but has been cool to some of Patrick's other revenue raising proposals. Whether he is around to add his 2 cents is crucial -- because all tax proposals must originate in the House.

And despite being the author of House budgets since 2005 we don't know where Ways and Means Chairman Robert DeLeo really stands on new taxes. Or whether he will even be Ways and Means chair if DiMasi sticks around.

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Blogger Nick Burbules said...

Thanks for the link to Progressive Blog Digest!

I have added you to my blog list as well.

Nick Burbules

January 25, 2009 1:00 PM  

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