Our New State Piggy Bank

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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 the benefit of the MCCA.

But now it appears that the loss-making MCCA (their annual report contains a partial income statement but no balance sheet, tsk, tsk.), has a surplus of cash, at least $66 million by my figuring.

Does diverting this cash for non-convention center uses comply with the original intent of the funding arrangement? And if the Convention Center has assets it does not need or is running some type of cash surplus, shouldn’t we look at lowering some of the taxes and fees that were supposed to be dedicated to that facility?