Governor Patrick met or conference called with 37 Massachusetts mayors yesterday, warning that cuts in state aid may be inevitable. He will announce cuts to the $28.2 billion dollar budget this upcoming week. Dan Ring, Springfield Republican, details some of the mayor responses here.
Question One, which calls for the elimination of the state income tax, will cut the state's revenues by 40%.
Half or more of Massachusetts cities' budgets come from the state coffers. Springfield's $529 million budget includes $310 million from the state. Right now cities and towns are preparing for a 7% cut. What if that cut were 40% instead of 7%?
If you were mayor, how would you make the hard choices if you lost 40% of your state aid? Of course you'd want to save as much of the fire and police departments' services as possible, but layoffs would have to take place. And then what? Teachers? Road repair? Solid waste management?
Meanwhile, the state would be cutting 40% of the services that they fund directly. Health care, home care for seniors, job development, environmental services, shelters for homeless families, community colleges, state parks--- the list goes on and on.
Question One is tempting for individuals and families who already are having a hard time making ends meet. Add to that the fact that we all know where waste is present in city and state budgets, and we all feel like our input isn't valued very much. But in this case, the cure is worse than the disease. Question One didn't make sense even before our current financial meltdown; I can't imagine our communities suffering these cuts now unless we all want chaos in the streets.