The Mass. Fiscal Alliance staff is having a few laughs as we analyze the budget amendment proposals filed last week. Below is our breakdown:
Worst of the Worst:
First-term State Rep. Brendan Crighton of Lynn proposed sending $75,000 to the Mass. Bicycle Coalition for a study on the return on investment of developing bicycle connectivity to transit facilities in gateway cities. That's a lot of words with a lot of syllables and a lot of cash for a study which might be subtitled, "Can I take my bike on the bus?"
Another wordy but no more worthy amendment was filed by State Rep. Ellen Story of Amherst: $1 million to establish a statewide municipal dispute resolution grant program to provide guidance and support to municipalities to manage and prevent conflict over local regional issues. Marriage counseling for cities and towns... What have we come to?
State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier of Pittsfield is asking for taxpayer money, $50,000 to be exact, for what is described as “Phase 2 of the Berkshire Carousel Project." What is the Berkshire Carousel Project? We were asking that question too. According to their website, "it's a wooden carousel that is both a work of art and a wonderful form of family fun and entertainment. It will be a permanent display of the creative endeavors of the residents of Berkshire County involved in its creation.” The next time you are in Pittsfield, please make sure to remember that their lawmaker is asking taxpayers to fund a wooden carousel.
Some of the better ideas:
State Rep. Josh Cutler (D-Duxbury) filed to lower the LLC filing fee to $250 for employers with 5 or fewer employees. Cutler scores 20% on our Legislative Scorecard. But as they say, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Let's hope Cutler's stepping toward more taxpayer-friendly voting behavior in the future.
Both Brad Jones (R-North Reading) and Geoff Diehl (R-Whitman) filed amendments aimed at preventing big cash payouts for unused sick time for state employees. We also like Jones' proposal requiring half of any excess state revenue flows to local governments.
The moral of the story: yes, the vast majority of the 1307 budget amendments were lumps of coal, but gems are among them, when you search long enough.