Hiller Instinct: State budget
The Hiller Instinct: Hiller Instinct: State budget
Its five hundred pages add up to more than $25 billion. But even Sherlock Holmes couldn't discover how all the money is spent.
Robert Travaglini, the Senate President told me, "It's just too big in scope, Andy, to truly comprehend and understand."
Take the $5 billion the state puts into education. This budget doesn't tell you whether it pays for computers in classrooms, or someone's spring break. Instead, the budget spends millions with no explanations:
Salem State College--more than $30 million
Fitchburg State and Worcester State each get more than $20 million.
Sen. Travaglini added, "Twenty million dollars is just a small piece of it and I don't mean to sound trivial, but whenever we make decisions of that nature, we try to revisit them.
And it's not only schools that get what looks like a blank check:
The State Racing Commission--more than $2 million.
Forensic Services--more than $6 million.
And what exactly do taxpayers get for those millions?
Our mystery budget doesn't even give taxpayers a clue.
Rep. Sal Dimasi, the House speaker says, "In order to find out where specific money is being spent, they have to look a little closer."
I ask him, "and sometimes it's not so simple to get closer?
Rep Dimasi says, "No, it's not simple. It's a complicated document."
Every good mystery ought to include some humor. In this budget, the funny money comes with federal grants:
$38,000 for enhanced surveillance of swine garbage feeding operations may make you laugh out loud.
A grant for an inventory of Navy shipwrecks in Massachusetts waters--a bargain at $495--should make you smile.
But the smiles aren't wide enough to hide the black hole of this budget--the gap between where the money goes and how its spent.
So cross this off your reading list, and find yourself a mystery that can be solved.
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