I want to thank everyone who took the time to comment on this issue before the vote. I read all of the comments. I did vote for the bill. The House did strengthen the bill on the floor in one important respect. We gave the financial overseer the power to trigger a financial control board at any time.
- We are not giving any money to or loaning any money to or guaranteeing any debt for the City of Lawrence.
- We are only allowing them to borrow in a deficit condition — something we have done for three other communities over the past decade with little fanfare.
- Just letting them fail is definitely not an option; it would affect the borrowing ability of every other Massachusetts community (as well as hurting the 70,000 residents of Lawrence very badly).
- The oversight we have put in place is most of the way to a financial control board. We are putting in place a financial overseer who will evaluate and guide the finances of the city — that’s a lot of what a financial control board would do initially anyway; an FCB would need some time to assess everything before asserting itself with hands on control. The overseer will carry a very big stick — having the power to force an FCB at any time.
- This approach is not an endorsement of the new mayor and city council, who appear to be off to a fairly weak start, but it gives them a bit of a chance, while exposing the state to little or no additional risk.
- In the case of Springfield, we gave a significant cash infusion to the City and that’s what justified the immediate financial control board there.