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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, April 22, 2009

"Things ain't gonna get any better"

You can see why House Speaker Robert DeLeo likes the ideas of casinos. He's probably a poker player. He knows how to keep his cards close to his vest.

DeLeo wasn't offering much to the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation other than declaring an income tax hike would be "dead on arrival." Sales tax? Gas tax? Furloughs in the House and Senate? The Speaker was almost as forthcoming as The New York Times brain trust.

(Nor did he offer any hints whether lawmakers taking this school vacation week off were being paid or whether they get an extra day off because of the Monday holiday.)

But we do know the fiscal crisis is getting severe enough that good ol' Smilin' Dan Grabauskas is actually ready to act -- laying off 75 employees and impose furloughs and a wage freeze on its nonunion workers.
“I have to start doing something. Things ain’t gonna get any better,” said Grabauskas, who blamed the cuts on a drop in ridership, advertising on the T, and expected union raises and pension contributions.
When Grabauskas acknowledges "things ain't gonna get any better" you know its long past time for lawmakers to get serious about tackling the state's problems.

Gov. Deval Patrick has conveniently taken the heat off of them by making some bone-headed personnel decisions, but the facts are inescapable: Nearly four full months have elapsed in this year -- complete with a lost month over the DiMasi ordeal, two weeks of vacation and a number of paid days off. We're waiting on pensions, ethics, transportation overhauls and an answer of how we will pay for services we need and can't afford.

And I can't feel comfortable that more than a handful of House and Senate leaders are taking things seriously when lawmakers can round up the votes to save the Quinn Bill and submit 978 amendments for necessities such as $20,000 to update the sound system at a school auditorium in Hopedale; $250,000 for the eradication of invasive aquatic species in Lake Cochituate State Park; $90,121 to have the State Police Bomb Squad trained by Israeli security services; or $50,000 so that Leicester can study whether it needs a new fire facility.

It's getting to be time to know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em. Let's get serious already, shall we.

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