Late last night the Senate passed a $27.35 billion budget that included a 25% increase in the state sales tax, entered Massachusetts into the Powerball lottery, eliminated the DC office, some reduction in prescription drug waste, and increased exemptions under the Pacheco Law. The Senate rejected nearly every attempt at serious reforms including: a repeal of the Pacheco Law, a statewide hiring and wage freeze, an amendment that would give local voters control over local meals/hotel taxes, several attempts to create transparency, and several amendments to eliminate or cut spending in various offices. With several of the revenues sources for the next budget only temporary the legislature appears to be only putting off another “painful” series of budget cuts.
The ball is now in Governor Patrick’s court on reforms before revenues. It is pretty clear that the legislature has no desire to reform the way government operates in the Commonwealth. The governor has only recently shown a serious interest in essential government reforms.
The animosity between the two branches could not be stronger. The legislature will probably complain about how they feel Patrick doesn’t respect them, that he hasn’t done jack shit, and that he is “irrelevant.” Governor Patrick will look like a deer-in-the-headlights, try to act tough, and in the end take a nice slap across the face. Meanwhile the innocent bystanders, better known as taxpayers, will suffer at the hands of a runaway kleptocracy and a legislature dominated by members who live in fear of big labor. These tax increases and budget cuts will not help the poor, they will only hurt it.
Real cuts need to be made to a budget and the question is which budget? Will working families who are struggling to get by make cuts to their personal budgets or will the leviathan make cuts to its budget?
I think we know the answer.