GOP Legislators on Fiscal Policy: Umm, We’ll Get Back to You

As the towns they represent continue to struggle in the Great Recession, GOP legislators have of late been championing more state spending. They particularly want more local aid, the general category under which the state funds basic municipal services like police protection, as well as education, which the State Constitution requires. These lawmakers have even gone so far as to persuade the Legislature and the Governor to use budget surpluses to fund more local aid instead of saving those surpluses up to trigger a state income tax cut. They better hope Grover doesn’t find out about that one. He’s got their names.

And speaking of Grover, that harsh taskmaster seems never to be satisfied. Which is why GOP legislators are also trying to cut the state sales tax from 6.25 percent to 5 percent. This would reduce revenues by about $1 billion per year, doubling our budget deficit. This in turn would make it more difficult for the state to fund local aid at a level satisfactory to GOP legislators. What to do?

When I heard that GOP legislators had filed a bill this session under which the state would fully fund its obligations to cities and towns, I thought that they might have found an answer to their riddle. Sadly, no. Instead, they’ve taken the (almost unheard of) step of filing the bill first and worrying about the drafting later — or rather, delegating somebody else to worry about the drafting. The authors of this bill will doubtless be extending their thanks for your patience while they figure out their position.

(Crossposted at BlueMassGroup)

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