The budget lies

The budget lies

You know I’ve noticed in the past year or so that all kinds of people are coming out of the woodwork, especially here in Massachusetts, to protest state budget cuts and planned tax cuts, including the Catholic dioceses. From editorials to letters to newspaper articles, they say that essential services will be cut, that the poor will end up in the streets, that kids will go hungry and uneducated, that the sick will get sicker and uncared for, and so on. Basically, a modest budget and tax cut will result in societal destruction, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the Great Depression.

But a few simple facts and figures keep cropping up that make me question the conventional, ahem, wisdom. In 1989, the state’s entire budget was $12.3 billion, a not inconsiderable sum even then. And in 2004, even with the tiny budget and tax cuts in place, the budget will be $25 billion! That’s a 100 percent increase in 15 years! That’s certainly a lot more than the rise in inflation.

So, I’m left wondering: what did all those people do to survive before 1989? How did they get by without essential services and programs for the poor and sick and elderly? And if they could get by then without it, why can’t they do so now?

And that begs the question: where is all that money really going if schools can’t afford to buy supplies and so on?