Sacred Cods and Holy Mackerals

December 9, 2008, 12:07 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Breaking news from the State House…

State House News Service is reporting that House Speaker Sal DiMasi is anticipating a possible 10% cut in local aid next year. Right now, the key word is “possible” and not “likely” or “guaranteed.” However, there is little reason to think that this ultimately won’t happen 1) because the economic situation is going to get worse before it gets better 2) if you’re an embattled House Speaker, you don’t raise the possibility of a local aid cut as a trial balloon. Because doing so guarantees that your legislators’ phones are now ringing with worried town administrators and school superintendents on the other line. And nothing makes a legislator madder than being yelled at by elected officials from his district.

Cities and towns can make a fair argument that local aid levels never recovered from the last time they were cut back in 2002, if you take into account inflation. So an additional 10% cut is not going to be pretty.

(I kind of wonder if Joe Sullivan, Sue Kay, and Tom Koch are considering asking for recounts…)

It’s long been my belief that the only silver lining that accompanies a recession is the politicial cover it provides elected officials to enact needed fiscal reforms. Maybe we’ll see more regionalization of services (snowplowing contracts, school districts, rec departments…) Or maybe towns will finally be able to dump their health insurance and pension systems onto the state.

Maybe (and I say this as a major supporter of unions) we’ll even see a public union do the right thing and vote to pass up a payraise if it means they get to avoid layoffs.

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