Fasten your seatbelts: details of Governor Patrick’s first budget have been leaked to the Globe, and there’s no doubt more to come at the big unveiling on Tuesday night (which, by the way, will take place at a public meeting in Melrose and will be broadcast live on NECN starting at 7 pm — if you want to attend the meeting yourself, here’s how).
The bottom line appears to be this: lots of new money for municipalities and for public safety (especially community policing). Not much for anyone else [though see UPDATE below].
That strikes me as very smart, and as probably the best way to make lemonade out of the billion or so dollars worth of lemons that Romney/Healey left lying about. Bumping up local aid pays off in all kinds of productive ways: helps the schools, helps local police and fire departments, helps avoid Prop. 2-1/2 overrides, and (along with the other initiatives already announced) helps improve the environment for property tax cuts — or at least for avoiding more increases. And getting community policing moving again is desperately needed around the state. Also, the 1,000 new cops was an important campaign pledge that this should help fulfill (at least, as I understand it).
So here’s hoping that the Sal & Trav show can get behind what sounds like a pretty sensible agenda. In particular, DiMasi needs to get over his newly-developed revenue phobia. For God’s sake, he was the one who was pushing the payroll tax in the new health care bill, only to lose out to Romney and Trav. Why is he so skittish about closing corporate tax loopholes and about local option meals taxes? Because those weren’t his ideas, but rather came from someone else? Nah — that couldn’t be it.
UPDATE: Turns out there are some significant health-related increases in the budget as well. Specifically:
- $24.8 million for an expansion in the Universal Immunization Program — this includes access to three new vaccines (rotavirus, meningococcal conjugate, and HPV).
- $21.6 million for expanding and reconfiguring the Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Program, which includes screening programs for various cancers and other diseases, and the largest increase to the smoking prevention and cessation program since FY 1999.
- $3.8 million to expand Early Intervention.