Despite government claims, the nation is mired in an economic decline and sinking further and further into deep recession.
Evidence of tough times is found in every state of the nation - California faces a $36 billion budget deficit - thats b as in billion. Virtually every local municipality has fewer and fewer resources available for basic local services. Read more...
There will be significantly less state aid for our schools, roads, health programs, social service agencies, environmental or recreational services.
As the governor of Massachusetts and state Legislature look for ways to bring the state budget into balance, the pressure is first and foremost on communities to find ways to cut spending at the local level.
I was shocked to learn in the aftermath of Gov. Romneys initial television address on the states fiscal crisis and in subsequent budget proposals, program reductions and restructuring just how perilous the plight of the states largest cities is. And, of course, the impact will even reach down and squeeze the smaller cities and towns.
Mayor Albano of Springfield reported that his city gets more than 70 percent of its revenue or income from the state; he has ordered lay offs for 73 police officers and scores of school and health workers, and firefighters. In other words, the states third largest city is virtually a ward of the state. Northamptons dependence is not as great, but state aid still provides the margin of error between inadequate and barely acceptable public services.
How did this happen? Why are the states 341 cities and towns no longer self-governing entities, but actual waifs, required to beg and plead with lawmakers for money, ragged beggars with tin cups in hand.
When restrictions were placed on how much local communities could raise through property taxes, the escape valve was the state, which could be expected to step in to compensate for local budget shortfalls. After all, there was no restriction similar to Proposition 2 1/2 on state income and sales tax revenue, which continued to pump into Beacon Hill.
But a national recession coupled with ill-timed state tax cuts has capped the state revenue gusher, which means already impoverished communities face further reductions in services. In other words, let the victims of failed state policy figure how to tighten their belts.
The system of revenue generation and the delivery of local services has completely broken down, and there is no sign anyone in state or local government has the faintest notion of how to fix it. The state is broke and local communities are powerless.
Consider this: As local classrooms, libraries, health centers and shelters go dark, work continues on a costly, redundant, and politically odious new courthouse in Hadley, conceived as lucrative patronage berths for two former local state legislators, William Nagle and Nancy Flavin, once public servants but now rightly viewed as discredited hacks.
Thats exhibit A of how local communities lost their right to self government. The list of other exhibits is endless.