The evening started with a presentation by Noah Burger from the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center
Noah offers both a look back history on what we have done in the past and how we arrived at this place and time. In the discussion he presented facts on where revenues come from and how we stand as a state in the broader look at our country. He touches on areas of what revenues are spent on. As usual his presentations are clear and on point and with out a doubt the easiest to follow, providing a clear understanding of the forces at work that form our governments response to requests and needs from the state.
Following Noah was Matt Gorzkowicz Assistant Secretary for Budget. Matt walked us through the budget process and how the Governor stayed true to his commitment on all programs even where cuts were made they did not effect the commitments he made. This was an presented and compelling argument that this occurred. Finally the Secretary pointed out the budget process and documents were now online and he invited everyone to look them over
Here is the web site
The Url is for the start you will find that the 400 page document is spread out allong with the dialogue about various issues and line items well worth a review if your really interested.
Next up was David Sullivan from Admin and Finance and I would like to refer to David as the one thrown under the bus at these events and unfortunately he usually provides the bad news. I saw a wave of relief pass over him when Matt walked into the room and certainly he was much happy having more officials to divide the bad news with. For the first time in 3 years I have seen David at these events he survived rather well and seemed extremely happy with the out come but to get back to the facts he did surmise the tasks at hand and the legal requirement for a balanced budget and the tough choices that needed to be made. David also added the overview of the Stimulus effects and the need for the Municipal Partnership II and the other revenue issues currently before the legislature. Unfortunately he did have to suggest that the slide is continuing and some in the house and Senate and the Administration now feel that the decline could be as much as $5 Billion Dollars. this in a 28 Billion dollar budget is truly catastrophic.
Last up was Judy Meredith of the Public Policy Center and One Massachusetts project. Judy as usual full of good news and energy had everyone on their feet waving their hands in the air in what appeared to be an attempt to make sure we were all awake after an hour and half of bad news but actually was a very nice exercise in how what we see as going one way others can see as going in the opposite way. She presented the discussion that we need to change the dialogue to the shared values we all have and that all are important to each of us and that government plays a critical role that when we look at the values we all hold as important to us it is a result of all of us joining together to get it done. Which ultimately is what government is. If you have not seen Judy or her staff’s presentation or you are looking for a new speaker for your group, she is well worth putting on your short list.
All in all I know some who arrived hoping this was all a bad dream left with a clear understanding that their are challenges ahead but they also felt that their was a real effort and a clear understanding of the need to continue to work together to solve these challenges. For those In Somerville the event was taped by Cable and I know some in Medford have requested a copy as well I strongly suggest that if you have not had a discussion in your city or town and want to see a grass roots event that was loaded with 2 hours or facts and really cut through the fiction, think about contacting Senator Jehlen’s office and see if you can get a copy of the tape and show it in your community it will be well worth it.
As Usual Manny many thanks to Senator Pat Jehlen for hosting this event there were over 150 crowded intot he room and this provides a truely great forum to stay informed and to be able to talk logicly about how we move our district and our State forward and providing wonderful tools for local officials when they are preparing local budgets.
Again Thank you Senator Jehlen!
As Usual Just my Opinion