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Ralph White, Fiscal Conservative

[CORRECTION ADDED BELOW] I attended another meeting of the Special Commission on Pension Reform this week and was entertained, as always. – The representative from the Auditor’s office had his delicate sensitivities hurt by the chair’s statement that if anyone wanted to defend termination pensions, they should be prepared to do so at the meeting. – PERAC Commissioner Joe Connarton crudely mocked the Vice Chair of the Commission Peter Diamond (a professor at MIT with some experience in the topic). The irony of the situation was that Diamond was trying to make room in the discussion for a proposal from one of the state’s labor unions. – The Chair of the Commission Alicia Munnell repeatedly referred to Kyle Cheney, a […]

A Few Nuggets from the Conference Budget

The Conference Budget came out late last night and its being voted on today, all 263 pages of it, which each and every legislator has doubtless read. – Our unique-in-the-nation restrictions on contracting with the private sector remain largely intact. The Senate attempted to raise the cap on projects subject to the law to $2 million (see section 7D), while the Conference budget (in section 7) only raises it to $500k (from $200k). Given the hundreds of million in additional taxes in this budget, its hard to feel good about such a small rise. – Sections 129 and 130 generate extra money for the budget from two of the murkier sources of funds. 129 continues the current year’s practice of […]

Our New State Piggy Bank

The Mass Convention Center Authority appears to be the new piggy bank for state leaders. The Governor and Legislature put the touch on them for $65 million earlier this year to balance the FY09 budget. Next, the state and the city of Boston put the touch on the Convention Center Authority for $1 million for the upcoming Tall Ships event. The MCCA operated for years with a state budget subsidy (since eliminated) to fund its debt and a special series of dedicated tax and fee revenues. The intent was to tax area properties (that ostensibly benefited from the Center) and travelers (who might be using the center). The logic was that revenue from users would be ringfenced and used for […]

Boom times at the NEA

From our man in Education Havana, Mike Antonucci, sleuth extraordinaire, gives us some numbers on why the recession cannot be said to have hit everybody equally. Proposed Budget Shows No Recession at NEA Headquarters. The economy may be staggering along, the labor movement may be facing financial problems, but the National Education Association continues to let the good times roll. The proposed 2009-10 NEA budget forecasts $355.8 million in revenue, an increase of $10 million over this year. The headlines warn us of massive teacher layoffs across the nation, but NEA modified its projection of new teacher members upward. Originally expecting an increase of 5,000 new teacher members for 2009-10, the latest proposed budget now predicts 7,000 new teacher members. […]

The BPPA and BPA

The Globe reports that the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association has objected to the Police Commissioner’s directive to get rid of water coolers (which would save $50k). The BPPA notes that the coolers were originally instituted as a health measure. Given the recent findings that allegedly harmful chemical Bisphenol A (which is found in almost all water cooler bottles) leaches into the water after rather brief exposure, the BPPA may be better off listening to the Commissioner.