I even reported that he had made this commitment at our board of selectmen meeting last Thursday night. What a relief that the $600 million in cuts would not be on the backs of the towns and cities of the commonwealth.
Here’s Deval’s exact comment about local aid cuts: “We will not cut local aid. Local communities are the front line of both our economic and our social life and they are struggling as it is.”
On October 30th (the next day), he filed H4303, which includes local aid cuts and made requests to the legislature to cut PILOT funding and the Quinn Bill (both elements of local aid).
Dear Governor Patrick:
Local aid, as well as assessments, are reported to the towns and cities by the Department of Revenue via what is commonly called the Cherry Sheet. The Cherry Sheet even has its own 56-page manual called the Cherry Sheet Manual. So far, so good.
From page three of the Cherry Sheet Manual:
Named for the cherry-colored paper on which it was originally printed, the Cherry Sheet is the official notification from the Commissioner of Revenue of the upcoming fiscal year’s state aid and assessments to cities, towns and regional school districts.
When you say “local aid,” that means the stuff listed on the Cherry Sheet. Everyone, except you, seems to know this.
For reference, we’ll use the Town of Sandwich’s fiscal year 2010 Cherry Sheet.
Now let’s look at some of the cuts you’re proposing:
1) 50% reduction of Quinn Bill payments – That would be Line 4 under Section B of the Cherry Sheet (aka “local aid”).
2) 39% reduction of PILOT – PILOT stands for payments in lieu of taxes. In this case, it refers to the payments made by the state to cities and towns that host state-owned property. Here in Sandwich, we have quite a bit of state-owned land, the biggest piece of it being the Massachusetts Military Reservation. We were scheduled to receive $551,137 of PILOT. A 39% reduction would correlate to about $215,000. Now, let’s see… Is that on the Cherry Sheet? Yes. Here it is. Line 8 under Section B.
3) You want to cut budget line 7000-9501, Public Libraries Local Aid, by $284,000 (statewide). Do I even need to bother to see if Public Libraries Local Aid might, in fact, be considered local aid? Just so you know, it’s Line 9 under Section B.
4) It gets better. Next, you want to shave $5,174,307 off the Charter School Reimbursement budget line item (7061-9010). You know what’s coming next. There it is. Line 4 under Section A of our Cherry Sheet.
5) Finally, you’re going to lop $18 million off the Regional School Districts Transportation budget (7035-0006). Well, guess what? Sandwich and four other towns pay for Upper Cape Tech, so where do you think the school is going to be forced to go to make up for their transportation budget shortfall? Really. Do I need to answer the question for you?
So, Governor, when you said “We will not cut local aid,” what did you think you were saying? Are you and your staff so unfamiliar with how our budgets work that you didn’t realize that these are all local aid accounts? Or did you think that we wouldn’t notice?
It’s incredible that we can’t trust even the simplest, most straight-forward things that you say. (I’m shaking my head.)
Incredulous and Stunned in Sandwich
Here’s a fuller analysis of the governor’s proposed cuts: H4303 – Governor’s FY10 Fiscal Solutions Supp
Copyright 2009 Randy Hunt