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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Slow news day

There is a faint whiff of something out of place with the report that Massachusetts is on target to fall $200 million short of revenue projections in September.

No, not the numbers. Despite the tax increase and moderate improvement in August it's certainly plausible that a big drop was likely when the back-to-school sales were over.

No, what bothers me is this: the Department of Revenue has become religious in putting out full numbers days after the books close each month. So why are we seeing projections three days before the end of the month?

It stuck out like the nose on Treasurer Tim's face in the picture that accompanies the online version.

Yesterday was Yom Kippur, a slow day around the Statehouse and many parts of the state. What better way to generate some news (like a lead story in the Globe) than by feeding a new slice of gloom and doom to a hungry press corps?

And sure enough, there's is the independent candidate for governor solemnly intoning:
“It’s looking rather bleak. This should sound the alarm. I certainly would be concerned in terms of spending going forward. I don’t know whether the administration has the time to wait to cut if these numbers are indicative of what’s to come.’’
Our fiscally responsible treasurer sounding the alarm! Gee, without your help we wouldn't have known. OK, maybe not for another couple of days.

While the treasurer is officially charged with keeping the state's books, Cahill has a history of drop-by interest in stories ranging from the Mass. Pike debt to school building funds to pensions.

Drop by as in snag a headline and keep on moving.

There's little doubt that these numbers (and those that preceded them) will be at the heart of the 2010 gubernatorial campaign. But I would hope that instead of politicizing revenue projections -- part of the bad old days of the Massachusetts Malaise of the late 1980s -- we would see candidates offer solutions.

And right now all we have from Treasurer Tim is a promise to cut taxes and vague comments about spending cuts in areas like health care. Cuts that need legislative approval by the way.

So it would have been far more newsworthy if, in addition to leaking early revenue projections and tut-tutting about the administration not having enough time to make cuts, that the ever-so-helpful treasurer got specific about where and how.

If you want the job, you'll have to do it eventually. Why not offer more than quick hits that generate headlines and little more?

That would be change we can believe in.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Readwriteblue said...

OK we get it Deval Patrick is you choice for Governor and now that Tim Cahill is going to run against him he is public enemy number 1. But your attack against a self severing politician would be more compelling if you were able to juxtapose a principled, self sacrificing, public servant against Mr. Cahill. (Sound of crickets) The state house currently lacks such individuals.

September 29, 2009 11:42 AM  
Blogger Outraged Liberal said...

Just because there aren't a lot or principled pols around doesn't make mean we should ignore the obvious ploys and games of those in the field.

And you may notice, if you check back, that I've had problems with Treasurer Tim long before he decided to run for governor.

September 30, 2009 4:57 AM  

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