In my own hometown of Brockton we had three overrides on the ballot in ’08 (all three failed), and then had to lay off more than 400 teachers last week. Sadly, we don’t have hundreds of thousands hidden away in other accounts, let alone hundreds of millions.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Boston, and I work in the city like a million other people.
But like six million other people I don’t live in the city. In most of the cities and towns where the vast majority of Mass residents live, budgets are tight, override attempts are common (and mostly unsuccessful), and the state isn’t exactly falling over itself to send more money gushing off the hill. Why do we have to scrape by, when Boston coasts?
Do people outside of Boston know about Boston’s imperviousness to revenue shortfalls? Were they paying attention when the Mayor tried to shut down four library branches under the guise of budget cuts, and Boston State Reps. were more than willing to spend another $3 million of state money to keep them open? (By the way, as Bernstein reports, Menino tried to kill that effort, because closing those branches was never really about the money).
As the economy recovers, building is going to resume in Boston much faster than it will in cities like Brockton. Business growth and tax revenues will rise for the capitol city much faster than they will for towns across the state. And so Boston will continue to bask in excess revenue and never have to threaten its residents with overrides or legitimate cuts to education or public safety, while the rest of us continue to watch our services diminish.
It’s a startling inequity that should be addressed on Beacon Hill. Legislators from outside Boston far outnumber those from within. It’s time to start taking advantage of the real majority.