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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Friday, October 16, 2009

"Breathtakingly bad picture"

Unemployment is up. Tax revenues are down. The federal stimulus pot is running dry. And the worst may be yet to come.

Given the double-barreled dose of bad news, Deval Patrick could be forgiven if he cancelled plans for his Oct. 23 fundraiser with Barack Obama and retreated into a corner at Sweet Pea Farm and sucked his thumb for the next year. The Massachusetts economy is in the tank and likely to get worse before it gets better.

And you know what happened to the last governor who had a passing relationship with a tank.

As someone who had a bird's eye view of the late '80s meltdown, my jaw drops in disbelief at the breadth and depth of this recession. Raise the sales tax -- during a month with a federal incentive to buy a car -- and tax revenues plummet for the quarter?

The Massachusetts Malaise was a walk in the park to a picnic compared to this. Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation President Michael Widmer summed it up perfectly, referring to the fact the law requires a hike on the tax employers pay to help pay for unemployment benefits:

“This is a breathtakingly bad picture. They’re putting additional taxes on employers, and we are seeing our jobs erode. It’s devastating in terms of the state’s competitiveness.’’

Well maybe not. Because no one else is really competitive these days.

And just like the late '80s, instead of stretching out hands to pitch in, we find other key players on the public scene pointing fingers, often the middle one, trying to deflect responsibility and blame.

Take Senate President Therese Murray. A little too much first person singular in this quote:
“We’re obviously in a fiscal morass, and we’re all going to have to come together to figure out how to get through this. He’s asking for further power, but we haven’t seen a plan.’’
Or Senate Minority Leader Richard Tisei, with the 20-20 hindsight that comes when your party caucus can meet in a phone booth.
“Basic things like a hiring freeze or a wage freeze, or repeal of the antiprivatizing laws - those would save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars,’’ Tisei said. “We’re always behind the eight ball on the budget crisis and can’t get ahead of it. It’s clear from listening to the governor that not only do we have a revenue problem, but we have a management problem in the state.’’
Last I looked it took the Legislature to repeal a law. And as for wage freezes, well, there's the matter of binding union contracts. The House did have a management problem of sorts -- an indicted former speaker accused of extortion. But Dianne Wilkerson did have a novel idea for solving her cash crunch.

Nor have I really heard a plan from Charlie Baker, the erstwhile Administration and Finance Secretary and designated GOP savior. Nope, it's not his job yet, but I'd love to hear any new or good ideas right about now.

The pain from a year of deep and regular cuts hasn't really sunk in on folks, except those who joined the ranks of the 9.3 percent of Massachusetts citizens without jobs. Anger over the sales tax hike is more palpable than that over cuts -- but wait until the street in front of your house resembles a skating rink because the highway department has to cut back on plowing and sanding.

We elect two branches of government, an executive who proposes and a legislature that disposes. But that hardly makes the Great and General Court powerless to take an active role, waiting for a plan to be handed down from on high before springing into action.

And lawmakers do seem to have a lot of time on their hands these days -- coming into town, collecting per diems and doing what exactly?

It's a nightmare that will only get worse. But give Patrick credit for one thing.

He didn't wait until Friday to shovel out this bad news.

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4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The tragedy of Massachusetts is that neither party has served the Commonwealth all that well. When revenues are down, the Democrats resort to their usual tactics -- raise taxes; the Republicans talk up tax and spending cuts but they're not all that serious.

Maybe the Commonwealth should file for bankruptcy and beg Congress for a bailout. Just like the auto and financial industries did.

October 16, 2009 8:14 AM  
Anonymous Stealth said...

Well, since states cannot run deficits, and the only way to balance the budget is to increase taxes or cut spending, either of which would make the recession worse, then Congress should indeed bail out all of the states.

Of course, states can save money during the good times, and its my understanding that Mass has such a rainy day fund. There should not be a penny left in it before any other measure is taken. What worse situation could we be saving it for?

October 16, 2009 12:40 PM  
Anonymous John Gatti JR said...

ASSACHUSETTS BUDGET CUTS AGAIN THIS YEAR!!!!...WHO IS THE DUMB, DUMBER, DUMBEST? THE GOVERNOR, LEGISLATURE, OR CITIZENS WHO BELIEVE THERE IS AN ACTUAL CRISIS AND NOT ANOTHER COVERUP? IS THIS ANOTHER MAKE BELIEVE SCHEME TO ONCE AGAIN JUSTIFY INEFFICIENCY, WASTE, OR MISMANAGEMENT FOR THE SOLE PURPOSE OF GIVING MORE TO THE SPECIAL INTERESTS AND PRESERVING MORE PATRONAGE SPECIAL INTEREST SPENDING FOR INSIDERS AND CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTERS?

Massachusetts Unecessary Budget Cuts Are Another Scheme To Fool The Taxpayers and Citizens

Shame and stupidity prevails on any proposed Massachusetts budget cuts with the Governor cutting budgets even wanting supreme powers to cut at will. This clearly shows an absolute dumbness that only depicts a continual lack of leadership failure with both the House and Senate Leadership enablers being part of the scheme. Unfortunately, most in the media will not report the real facts as always not to antagonize future access to the political elite.


There should be no budget shortfalls and a leaner budget to begin with. Stop feeding the addiction of costly no bid contracts to vendors, providers, and consultants that cost billions of budget taxpayer dollars. The shadow Massachusetts Government of outsourced employees from bought services that are never revealed or discussed should be the first place to start along with their executive perks and salaries. Elimination of waste, fraud, and abuse rampant throughout in several budget areas alone could solve any deficiency. Going after the so called underground economy that flourishes in the state alone means billions of additional revenue.

The elimination of unneeded patronage positions will enable the career dedicated workforce to perform their mandated duties on behalf of the taxpayers and citizens of Massachusetts.

Time for a true line item, subsidiary accounts, object codes, and a scheduling state budget filled with true accountability and oversight devices to regain the trust in government by the citizenry.

These are the solutions in plain talk. The bad taste of the Big Dig, Turnpike, Special Interest campaign Contributions, and those who practice personal gain instead of the common good has left citizens to be cynical and have no trust in Massachusetts Government.

Reforms are needed now, not yesterday, or tomorrow. Show us there is indeed a crisis and waste, fraud, and abuse has been eliminated openly and honestly then belief in our government will be restored and the citizens will follow.

http://oversightwatchmassachusetts.blogspot.com/

October 16, 2009 11:23 PM  
Anonymous pete said...

Massachusetts Unemployment Level Trends - September 2009

Massachusetts Unemployment Trend Heat Maps:
A map of Massachusetts Unemployment in September 2009 (BLS data)
http://www.localetrends.com/st/ma_massachusetts_unemployment.php?MAP_TYPE=curr_ue

versus Massachusetts Unemployment Levels 6 months ago
http://www.localetrends.com/st/ma_massachusetts_unemployment.php?MAP_TYPE=m12_ue

October 25, 2009 11:18 AM  

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