Reflections of the Massachusetts State Budget and Outlook for 2010

( – promoted by Mike Rossettie (DD4RP))

As this is my last column of 2009, I feel compelled to offer a few reflections regarding our state budget and the continued disappointing status of the political culture on Beacon Hill.

Simply stated, the current state budget harms local cities and towns and public safety, and increases taxes on sales, meals, telecommunications, alcohol, satellite television, hotel stays, nursing home residents and fees at the Registry of Motor Vehicles.  Those who supported our current budget also broke the promise of lottery revenue being dedicated to education and withdraw another $199 million from the state’s stabilization account.  The budget also borrows from the 2011 Federal Stimulus funds to put this year’s budget into balance.  This is a very disappointing scenario and sets up another structural budget problem for next year.

It is no secret that families are struggling to make ends meet, and if the majority of my Democratic counterparts in the House and Senate think raising every tax under the sun is going to make the lives of those families better, they are sadly mistaken.  If taxes are the answer to our slow economy, it should be to lower them and let the American people stimulate the economy. Government does not need or deserve any additional tax revenue.  

The well publicized ethical and patronage problems within state government need to be corrected rather than additional taxation of the hard working people of Massachusetts.  With the numerous media stories of the Governor hiring thousands of new employees and three consecutive House Speakers being charged with felonies by the Federal government, it is no wonder why the people of Massachusetts have little faith in their state government.  

Sadly, it once again appears the solution to this year’s budget crisis will be to continue the spending with additional taxes to fund it.  In addition to all of these new taxes and a lack of reform, I am deeply concerned that the political process itself is broken on Beacon Hill.  Our political process has developed under this one-party control where only a few Legislative leaders meet behind closed doors and put out bills and budgets without hearings, debates or straight up or down votes by Legislators. It is not only disappointing that so many members of the House and Senate go along with such a corrupt political culture, but also where is the media reporting such procedural abuses? By going along with the current culture on Beacon Hill, we are eroding our system of a representative democracy and encouraging improper influences into the political process.

As we move into 2010, voters will not only have the option of replacing Governor Patrick, all the Constitutional Offices and the entire Legislature,  but will also have a number of ballot questions to voice their opinion and send a clear message to the folks who control the agenda on Beacon Hill.  Such measures include a sales tax rollback, the elimination of the new sales tax on alcohol, lifting the cap on charter schools and reforming the affordable housing law (known as 40B).  

While I acknowledge that neither Beacon Hill nor Washington, D.C. are not going to change overnight, we must never become agreeable to increased taxation, allow procedural abuses of the political process or support the efforts for government’s power to expand. The alternatives of higher taxation or cutting core services are simply unacceptable.  I pledge to continue the fight for a more responsible and accountable state government.   It is my hope that the voters send a clear message in 2010 and that the culture of Beacon Hill politics will begin to make a real change for the better.

I wish everyone a happy, safe and healthy New Year.

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