Five Pieces of Pork In The Proposed Massachusetts Fiscal Year 2023 Budget

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Massachusetts state legislators are working on a budget for fiscal year 2023.

Unfortunately, they have a rough draft.

It’s rough indeed — on the taxpayers. Even with a huge surplus (thanks to bloated federal spending), it offers zero tax cuts.

With potentially more than $48.5 billion in the budget and various non-monetary provisions, the spending side of the budget is far from perfect.

On the bright side, state Representative Tackey Chan (D-Quincy) wants to provide an apprenticeship pathway to getting a barber’s license (Amendment 1234) and state representative Jeff Turco (D-Winthrop) wants a tuition freeze at the University of Massachusetts (Amendment 448). One shouldn’t need to go to 1,000 hours of schooling to become a barber; and public colleges in Massachusetts should control costs and combat bloat — not raise costs on working families.

However, the proposed state budget is replete with waste and even a violation of your civil liberties. Here is a look at five of the worst aspects of it.


1. Frederick Douglass Statue

Let’s preface this by saying that Frederick Douglass is an admirable historic figure. 

Abolitionists like Douglass are American heroes who fought back against a major wrong in this country.

However, earmarking $75,000 for a Frederick Douglass statue in Brockton (Amendment 1122), as state Representative Gerry Cassidy (D-Brockton) is doing, doesn’t improve the material being of his constituents. 

Some people might like the statue, but why not use such funding to do something that helps people rather than some symbolic gesture? 

This line item comes after he supported spending $200,000 on a Marvin Hagler statue last year. It’s just fiscally irresponsible and a waste of an opportunity to look out for his constituents.

Want a statue of this worthy personage? Raise the money privately.


2. LGBTQ-Specific After School Programming 

The state budget as currently proposed would provide the city of Somerville with $100,000 for its public education system.

Will it go towards hiring a new teacher, support staff, or helping low-income families pay for school supplies?


This line item calls for $100,000 for “LGBTQ+ focused after school programming.” State Representative Mike Connolly (D-Cambridge) proposed this one (Amendment 521). 

Some people identify as gay or transgender. Under Massachusetts law, these students have the same opportunities as the rest of the students in the district. 

So then why is programming directly catered toward LGBTQ children necessary? Why not just have more programming for everyone?


3.  Italian Cultural Center of Western Massachusetts

Us Bay Staters are also paying to promote Italian culture.

The organization in question wants to preserve Italian culture, traditions, heritage, and the Italian language. It sponsors “social, culinary and educational events to foster appreciation and respect in the community for the rich contributions that Italians have made locally and throughout the world.”

Here is the list of activities the organization puts on:

  • Italian Movie Nights
  • Italian Cultural Lecture Series
  • Delicious Italian Dinner Events
  • Italian Cooking Classes
  • Adult Italian Language Classes
  • Bus Trips
  • Raffles
  • Game Nights
  • A Celebration of our Italian Heritage with a Flag-Raising Ceremony
  • And much more

The sound like great activities, which should prove enriching and invigorating to certain Massachusetts residents with close family ties to Italy.

They also sound like the sort of things private groups do — not government.

Yet as things stand now, this group could receive $20,000 in taxpayer dollars thanks to Amendment 949 filed by state Representative Carlos Gonzalez (D-Springfield).

This is an example of the state government promoting one group over another. At best it’s favoritism. At worst, it could fracture social cohesion.

Italians have a proud tradition and vibrant culture in this country. They can tend to it themselves.


4. Traffic Light Cameras

Should the government be spying on its people without a warrant? 

If state Representative Donald Wong (R-Saugus) has it his way, the budget will allow for that in Saugus, Massachusetts.

That’s because he provided Amendment 581 to the budget. It would provide Saugus with $2,000 to purchase six traffic cameras.

Many Republicans in this state, for some reason, want red-light cameras. That’s right:  The party that says it’s for small government wants the government’s eye on you from a pole as you drive along the streets.

In addition to what amounts to warrant-less and unwarranted surveillance, red-light cameras come with another steep social cost. In states that use them, municipal governments force residents to pay regressive fees. Some communities have even shortened yellow lights so they can get more people in trouble and force them to pay more money, as NewBostonPost has noted.

If Wong wants safer roads, then perhaps he should have Kowloon stop overserving alcohol to patrons


5. Celebrating East Bridgewater

Should taxpayers across the state prop up a celebration of East Bridgewater’s 200th anniversary?

Or should East Bridgewater pay for East Bridgewater’s celebration?

State Representative Gerry Cassidy (D-Brockton) wants the state to provide the town with $75,000 (Amendment 1124) to help cover the cost of its 200th anniversary in 2023.

East Bridgewater is a nice little town in Plymouth County, Massachusetts that borders Bridgewater and Brockton. Former Boston Red Sox pitcher Manny Delcarmen used to bartend at a restaurant there from late 2019 to the summer of 2021.

But the town shouldn’t need the state government’s help to fund its celebration. This money could go towards helping the less fortunate, providing funding to fire departments, or ensuring that residents have clean water to drink.

Instead, it will go to something that won’t improve the material condition of the community.


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