Senate Republicans to push for Lawrence control board

The Massachusetts Senate Republican Caucus will be filing an amendment to the Lawrence bailout bill requiring the immediate appointment of a finance control board to manage the city’s finances.

“Our plan is to offer a strong control board to ensure that fiscally responsible decisions are being made on behalf of the taxpayers in Lawrence,” said Senate Minority Leader Richard R. Tisei.  “Anything short of that is nothing more than an ill-advised giveaway.”

The Senate is slated to consider the Lawrence bailout bill next Tuesday.  Under the House version of the bill approved this week, the city would be authorized to borrow up to $35 million by issuing municipal bonds backed by the city’s future local aid payments from the state.

The House bill does not call for the immediate creation of a finance control board, but provides that option if city officials are unable to close an estimated $24.5 million deficit with the assistance of a special state-appointed overseer who will work hand-in-hand with the mayor and city council.  Tisei said the extent of Lawrence’s fiscal problems requires more expedient action.

“I’m concerned that the $35 million Governor Patrick has proposed for Lawrence is essentially throwing good money after bad,” said Tisei.  “There’s nothing I’ve seen or heard about the current situation that would make me feel at all comfortable that this is a good investment on behalf of the taxpayers.

“What Lawrence needs to get out of its fiscal crisis and address the root causes of its ongoing budget problems is a combination of stability and predictability,” Tisei added.  “Clearly, the only way we’re going to do that is by putting a control board in place to make the tough decisions needed from the outset, rather than allowing the situation to deteriorate any further.”

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