My budget letter to Ways and Means Chairman Murphy appears below. Please note that my emphasis on special education aid reflects in part that this program proportionally benefits Arlington, Belmont and Cambridge more than other forms of local aid.
BY E-MAIL AND BY HAND
Dear Chairman Murphy,
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the budget.
I am particularly concerned about local aid — especially the special education circuit breaker. I am prepared to support alternative local revenue options, including the local option meals tax. I do hope that we are able to move forward on pension reform and changes in municipal health insurance purchasing. If necessary, after all available reforms and savings have been achieved, I am prepared to take tough votes on state tax questions as well.
In the squeeze we face, I hope that we are able to preserve key programs that save money in the long run — for example, the elder and mental health community services accounts, many public health programs, including the state labs and family planning, many of the state’s housing programs and the office of dam safety. There is a natural tendency to cut these programs in favor of programs that serve the most acute immediate needs. I have identified, in the attached list, the accounts that I am particularly concerned to preserve or, if possible, increase funding for.
Please note that I am not asking for any earmarks at this stage and I would prefer to vote for a budget with no earmarks in it. I especially think that earmarks that name specific organizations (as opposed to program categories) are ill-advised. However, if it appears that we are doing organization earmarks in the budget, I do have a couple I would offer at the amendment stage.
I look forward to our meeting, originally scheduled for Friday, now rescheduled to Tuesday, March 10.
Thank you again for the opportunity to comment.
State Representative, (617) 771-8274 (cell)