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Arthur Schaper: “Mister Governor” Patrick’s Final Budget

Friday, January 24, 2014

 

Common sense may fly over lame duck Governor Patrick’s budget hopes and dreams, believes Arthur Schaper.

Happy New Year, Massachusetts! And with every new year comes another legislative session, and an annual budget for the fiscal year to follow. Like his liberal counterpart in Rhode Island, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick gave his final state of the state address, although Patrick had the fortune (but not for the rest of the Commonwealth) of serving in office for two terms. He also outlined his final budget proposal.

A couple of givens: Patrick wants to spend more money, even though the Bay State has nothing left. With failing Obamneycare websites, lawsuits abounding, pension problems (though no unprecedented reforms under fire, as in Rhode Island), plus spiraling health care costs, tussles over immigration, and no end to the tax-and-spend culture of the Beacon Hill Democracy, no one should have been surprised.

Adressing education, health care and crime

And yet, the governor wants to increase spending by about five percent. His focuses? Expand early education, close the achievement gap in schools, ensure affordable health care and address violence among young people and in urban areas.

What will Governor Patrick do for early education, when the state as a whole has done so much damage already? The previous year, atheist parents were suing the local school because they did not want their children to recite “Under God”. How about curtailing the frivolous lawsuits against cash-strapped school districts? Go Local Worcester reported on schools with the most misbehaving students, as well as the institutions which have issued the most suspensions. That unruly students are becoming the norm, or rather the rule, in Worcester schools should alarm Worcester residents. Statehouse recriminations and Beacon Hill dollars will not solve that problem, yet public officials, especially those who depend on campaign dollars from teachers’ unions, will be more than happy to extend state-sponsored anything (including education) into every area of the Commonwealth’s citizenry.

Early education? How about removing the incentive for having children yet not raising them? Want to close the achievement gap, Mister Governor? Let the kids who want to learn choose the schools they enroll in, and as for those not so academically inclined? Trade schools, apprenticeships, and a quick tour of a jail cell (for those who cause more trouble than they should).

About ensuring affordable health care, one gets the impression that Patrick copied this idea off of prior Bay State “State of the State” addresses, or at least off of President Obama’s teleprompter. Who doesn’t want affordable health care? Yet the very legislation which was supposed to advance this agenda, the Affordable Care Act, has proven unaffordable, as well as preventing doctors from caring for their patients, as well as contributing to Massachusetts’ dubious distinction as the state with the highest health care costs.

When will liberals in government ever learn? Not any time soon, judging by this latest budget schema (or scheme).

About rising crime from youth in urban areas, a quick review of the cost-effective methods listed above will take care of juvenile delinquency. Of course, removing the ease of welfare fraud and the criminal elements latent within (like the Boston Marathon bombing, provided by taxpayer funded, homegrown terrorists) would stave off crime in the urban regions.

On a positive note, the government (federal, not state) finally put behind bars, and for good, Irish mob hero/thug James “Whitey” Bulger. It’s time to make an example out of organized crime, as in it really doesn’t pay. Now, as for the legal kind (Beacon Hill, Washington D.C.). . .

Hedging his bets

But let’s not lose our focus on “Mister Governor” Patrick’s budget proposals.

There were some examples of restraint. Instead of treating the few tax-paying residents like limitless coffers of gold, the governor rejected prior-repeated attempts to revive raising the state income tax. With so little coming in (in terms of money), and so many people coming out (in terms of leaving the state), Patrick needed to hedge his bets, as far as cashing in on those with any cash left.

And speaking of cashing in and hedging bets, the Governor of Massachusetts played a card all too similar to Rhode Island Governor Chafee: taking into account projected revenues for projects not yet built. Projections with a capital P, the casinos have not yet been built, and with rumblings in Worcester and throughout the state that they like the revenue, but the traffic and trouble associated with it in their hometowns, these potential resources may turn out as one more source of wishful thinking.

Lawmakers rejected the computer cloud tax. Republicans are pushing to end the forever gas tax. Yet other taxing suggestions did sneak into Patrick’s budget, including that ridiculous levy on candy and soda. With one of the highest tax rates on cigarettes in the country, Massachusetts has inadvertently created a black market for tobacco. Will a schoolyard underground add to it Skittles and Coca-Cola, too? So much for bring down youth crime in the urban core. Common sense may fly over lame duck Governor Patrick’s budget hopes and dreams.

Still, with all of its flaws, Governor Patrick declared: ‘‘I'm proud of this budget. It’s a good budget. It’s a sensible budget.’’

No economy, even in self-praise.

 

Arthur Christopher Schaper is a teacher-turned-writer on topics both timeless and timely; political, cultural, and eternal. A life-long Southern California resident, Arthur currently lives in Torrance. Follow him on Twitter @ArthurCSchaper, reach him at [email protected], and read more at Schaper's Corner and As He Is, So Are We Ministries.

 

Related Slideshow: New England Communities With the Most Political Clout 2013

The Sunlight Foundation, in conjunction with Azavea, released data maps this week showing political contribution dollars to federal elections dating back to 1990 -- by county.

GoLocal takes a look at the counties in New England that had the highest per-capita contributions in the 2012 election cycle -- and talked with experts about what that meant for those areas in New Engand, as well as the candidates.  

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25. Merrimack County, NH

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $9.86

Total contributions: $1,447,713

Merrimack County is named after the Merrimack River and is home to the states capital, Concord. Merrimack County has a total area of 956 square miles and a population of 146,761.

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24. Cheshire County, NH

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $9.88

Total contributions: $759,209

Cheshire is one of the five original counties in New Hampshire and was founded in 1771. The highest point in Cheshire County is located at the top of Mount Monadnock, which was made famous by the poets Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau.

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23. Rockingham County, NH

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $9.96

Total contributions: $2,965,530

Rockingham has 37 communities and has a population of 297,820. Rockingham County also was home to the famous poet, Robert Frost

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22. Belknap County, NH

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $10.02

Total contributions: $604,512

Belknap County is one of the ten counties in New Hampshire and has a population of 60,327. It is located in the center of New Hampshire and the largest city is Laconia.

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21. Hampshire County, MA

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $10.41

Total contributions: $1,664,077

Hampshire County has a total area of 545 square miles and is located in the middle of Massachusetts. Hampshire County is also the only county to be surrounded in all directions by other Massachusetts counties.

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20. Barnstable County, MA

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $10.90

Total contributions: $2,348,541

Barnstable County was founded in 1685 and has three national protected areas. Cape Cod National Seashore is the most famous protected area within Barnstable County and brings in a high amount of tourists every year.

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19. Berkshire County, MA

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $12.49

Total contributions: $1,624,400

Berkshire County is located on the western side of Massachusetts and borders three different neighboring states. Originally the Mahican Native American Tribe inhabited Berkshire County up until the English settlers arrived and bought the land in 1724. 

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18. Essex County, MA

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $13.22

Total contributions: $9,991,201

Essex is located in the northeastern part of Massachusetts and contains towns such as Salem, Lynn, and Andover. Essex was founded in 1643 and because of Essex historical background, the whole county has been designated as the Essex National Heritage Area.

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17. Chittendon County, VT

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $13.86

Total contributions: $2,196,107

Chittenden has a population of 158,504, making it Vermont’s most populated county. Chittenden’s largest city is Burlington, which has about one third of Vermont’s total population.

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16. Lamoille County, VT

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $14.82

Total contributions: $369,854

Lamoille County was founded in 1835 and has a population of 24,958. The county has 464 square miles, of which 461 of them are land.

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15. Addison County, VT

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $15.49

Total contributions: $569,299

Located on the west side of Vermont, Addison County has a total area of 808 square miles. Addison's largest town is Middlebury, where the Community College of Vermont and Middlebury College are located.

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14. Newport County, RI

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $16.02

Total contributions: $1,214,26

Newport County is one of the five Rhode Island Counties and was founded in 1703. Just like Connecticut, none of Rhode Island counties have an any governmental functions.

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13. Cumberland County, ME

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $18.33

Total contributions: $5,205,507

Cumberland County has a population of 283,921 and is Maine’s most populated county. The county was named after the William, Duke of Cumberland, a son of King George II.

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12. Windsor County, VT

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $20.57

Total contributions: $1,156,149

Windsor County is the largest county in Vermont and consists of 971 square miles of land and 5 square miles of water.

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11. Bristol County, RI

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $20.91

Total contributions: $1,027,472

Bristol County has a population of 49,144 and is the third smallest county in the United States. Bristol County was originally apart of Massachusetts, but was transferred to Rhode Island in 1746.

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10. Grafton County, NH

Contributions, per capita, 2012 :$20.95

Total contributions: $1,868,739

With a population of 89,181, Grafton County is the second largest county in New Hampshire. Home of New Hampshire’s only national forest, White Mountain National Forest takes up about half of Grafton’s total area 

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9. Carrol County, NH

Contributions, per capita, 2012: 2012: $22.81

Total contributions: $1,012,10

Created in 1840, Carroll County has a population of 47,567. Carroll County was also named after Charles Carroll, the last surviving signer of the United States Declaration of Independence.

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8. LItchfield County, CT

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $22.86

Total contributions: $4,286,143

Although it is Connecticut’s largest county, Litchfield has the lowest population density in all of Connecticut. Since 1960 all Connecticut counties have no county government.

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7. Middlesex County, MA

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $32.81

Total contributions: $50,432,154

Middlesex County has a population of 1,503,085 and has been ranked as the most populous county in New England.  The county government was abolished in 1997, but the county boundaries still exists for court jurisdictions and other administrative purposes.

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6. Nantucket County, MA

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $33.41

Total contributions: $344,021

Nantucket County consists of a couple of small islands and is a major tourist destination in Massachusetts. Normally Nantucket has a population of 10,298, but during the summer months the population can reach up to 50,000.

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5. Norfolk County, MA

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $35.87

Total contributions: $24,459,854

Named after a county from England, Norfolk County is the wealthiest county in Massachusetts. As of 2011, Norfolk was ranked the 32nd highest income county in the United States. 

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4. Dukes County, MA

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $36.32

Total contributions: $618,960

Consisting of Martha’s Vineyard and the Elizabeth Islands, Dukes County is one of Massachusetts’ top vacation spots. Originally Dukes County was apart New York, however it was transferred to Massachusetts on October 7, 1691.

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3. Suffolk County, MA

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $40.73

Total contributions: $30,323,537

Suffolk County has a population of 744,426 and contains Massachusetts’s largest city, Boston. Although Suffolk’s county government was abolished in the late 1900’s, it still remains as a geographic area.

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2. Knox County, ME

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $45.89

Total contributions: $1,820,410

Knox County was established on April 1st, 1860 and was named after American Revolutionary War General Henry Knox.  The county has a population of 39,668 and is the home of the Union Fair.

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1. Fairfield County, CT

Contributions, per capita, 2012: $55.65.  

Total contributions: $51,970,701 

In a population of 933,835, Fairfield County is the most densely populated county in Connecticut, and contains four of the state's largest cities -- Bridgeport, Stamford, Norwalk and Danbury.

 
 

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