Governor Deval Patrick has proposed a one percent cut to the state's Local Aid program that provides money to cities and towns for police and fire protection, parks and other vital local services. While it sounds like a small cut, according to a report released today by the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, funding for Local Aid is already at its lowest point in over three decades.
"Three decades of decline in local aid has impacted many of the quality services our members provide to the public," said Brenda Rodrigues a veteran public librarian from Brockton and recently-elected Secretary-Treasurer of SEIU Local 888.
"Our members feel the impact of these cuts by having to do more with less. Over the years these funding cuts have hurt those who rely on public services and strained public service workers to maintain the quality expected by the public."
MassBudget's new report, "The Rise and Fall of Local Aid in Massachusetts" finds that:
• Total aid to cities and towns--including both General Local Aid and Education funding--declined by $1.7 billion between 1982 and 2012 (adjusted for economic growth).
• The bulk of that decline--$1.3 billion of the $1.7 billion--comes in the form of reduced funding for General Local Aid (adjusted for economic growth).Read the entire report at http://tinyurl.com/bnz6mtm
"At both the national and state level, new revenue is sorely needed," Rodrigues continued. "But far too much of the tax burden has fallen on low and moderate income people. Now it's time for the richest 1% or 2 % who can afford it to pay their fair share."
In conjunction with the release of the report, MassBudget created an interactive tool that allows the public to track changes in Local Aid for each city and town in Massachusetts. Local 888 -- which unites police dispatchers, school crossing guards and other City of Somerville public employees -- will begin an internal membership campaign to get members to use the online tool. The new tool is available at http://tinyurl.com/d4mygsf