Our Long Term Financial Problems II

This continues a collection of links the people have been sending me on our long financial problems. For part I, click here.

Pieces on economic strategy:

Pieces on state/local fiscal integrity:

Published by Will Brownsberger

Will Brownsberger is State Senator from the Second Suffolk and Middlesex District.

2 replies on “Our Long Term Financial Problems II”

  1. Interesting mix of articles. I’m not buying the “uncertainty” claims of the guy at Boenning & Scattergood; I’ve seen polls of actual businesses (not finding it, it was quoted by one of the usual liberal suspects, I’ll keep an eye open) and the conclusion there was that what is slowing doing hiring and investment, is a lack of customers, and to the degree that there is uncertainty, uncertainty about future customers. Not taxes. Not regulations. Customers.

    At the state level, I would tax, spend, and try to cut unnecessary regulations and regularize those that are necessary (for instance, can we at least be sure that all our local zoning codes are roughly written in the same way — just for example). Funding education through property tax is not long-term sustainable (wages outrun inflation); it makes more sense to pay wages, with an income tax, and to set aside a true rainy-day fund.

    I’m working somewhat here from OMB estimates that say that a dollar taken from the government budget by spending, is more stimulative to the economy than a dollar taken by a tax cut; as long as we only do small adjustments around where we are, that means that tax-and-spend should grow the economy a little better than cut(taxes)-and-cut(spending). So, data-driven guy that I am, that is what I would do. Note, also, that we tried cutting taxes in the grand trickle-down experiment, but the boom of the 1990s was preceded by tax increases by Bush I and I think Clinton — not tax cuts. Bush II tried to stimulate with tax cuts, and for most people (but not the wealthiest) the resulting growth was at best tepid.

    What I would spend money on. Schools, for one. We’re not matching the services delivered 40 years ago in Florida. I would also spend money on “stupid” stuff like street cleaning and road repair. Towns cheap out on this whenever and wherever they can (Belmont is not the only town with rotten roads; Burlington does a pretty scummy job with theirs, especially the roads used mostly by out-of-towners.) I ride my bike often in several towns, I get to compare how long a pile of broken glass, or a dead animal, sits on the road. (Burlington once crack-sealed a dropped shoe to one of their roads, I failed to get a picture of it before a snow plow tore it loose.)

    I think the T needs help. They got the wrong end of the Big Dig debt, and when I talk to friends who live out in “the boonies” (Maynard, Westford), they talk about hour-long car commutes in the wee hours of the morning — the trains run too infrequently, and the suburban stations get completely full, or have unfriendly parking restrictions. I’m not sure what makes this work; the best I can come up with, is a combination of good, short-haul bike paths to the stations, plus perhaps limited-hours bus/shuttle service to give people an alternative to driving and parking. All that time spent driving is pretty much wasted, compared to being able to work, read, use the phone, or sleep on the train. And, when people drive to work, they often drive through Belmont, usually not stopping.

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