OK, holiday’s over. It looks like we’re pretty close to having a budget, and while the legislature deserves credit for encouraging the consolidation of health care and pension fund spending, their budget is going to include a lot more gimmickry than Gov. Patrick envisioned:
The budget depends on about $611 million in reserves and one-time revenue sources, more than double the amount the governor’s budget used and nearly $140 million more than the Senate’s did.
Look, I understand it’s a tough year, revenue-wise. And there are a lot of good things to spend money on. That’s why I’m amazed that the lege — the House in particular — has been so allergic to creating new revenue streams for cities and towns, much less itself. Encouraging municipalities to reduce wasteful spending is definitely the first order of business, but why not give them the tools they need to relieve the pressure on regressive property taxes? How many more Stonehams will we see?
“You’re not guaranteeing that that money is going to be raised,” said Representative Michael E. Festa, a close administration ally. “You’re only guaranteeing that we take a bad vote.”
As Stoneham’s jcsinclair has explained to us, the local options taxes are not a panacea for many communities. And I understand the lege’s unwillingness to be accused of “raising taxes” — even though they wouldn’t be the ones doing it. But right now, it seems there’s barely a productive tension of ideas in how to solve the problem.
Put it this way: In the next few years, if the property tax/prop 2.5 situation isn’t vastly improved, we won’t be blaming the city councils and mayors. We’ll blame the State Reps and Senators who sat on their hands and didn’t even raise their own revenue, much less let municipalities do it for themselves. Sometimes the “bad vote” is the one you don’t take at all.