Almost a million dollars an hour

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One of my pet issues has been moving payroll and other short-lived items off of the capital budget. It’s the state budgeting equivalent of taking out a mortgage to buy groceries — using 20 – 30 year bonds to pay for salaries, computers, cars, etc.

It would require roughly $200 million in operating funds to do that completely. I’ve been told many times (before the current crisis) that this would be impossible.

Governor Patrick, to his credit, proposed moving a mere $10 million of payroll off the capital budget in his first budget. Again, deemed impossible and ignored by the Legislature.

Now, in the midst of our great fiscal crisis, the $52 million line item for the Quinn Bill got cut. How long did it take to get amendments filed (here, here, and here) to restore this cut? 54 hours. $52 million, 54 hours.

Keep that in mind the next time some budget cut or increase is deemed ‘impossible’.

And, interestingly, 18 of the 32 members of the House Ways & Means Committee (which developed and approved this budget) turned around and co-sponsored an amendment to immediately reverse the Quinn bill cut they had signed off on days earlier.