Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Lawrence Bill Missing Key Components

As you know from multiple media reports, the city of Lawrence is facing a dire fiscal crisis and is in need of state assistance in order to balance the city’s FY2010 budget.

While we here at The Capitol View would like to help every city or town in need, we understand Lawrence is in a situation that requires our immediate attention and swift action. The city of Lawrence has an overwhelming fiscal shortfall and needs a definitive state plan to regain stability. We will not hand the city of Lawrence a blank check but we certainly want to see the city succeed. Unfortunately, the current legislation falls short and will not provide long term relief to the ailing city.

Today, a joint hearing of the House and Senate Ways and Means Committees was held to discuss House Bill 4421 which was filed by the Patrick-Murray Administration and would allow the city of Lawrence to borrow $35 million. The weak framework provided in the bill will delay the implementation of a Fiscal Control Board in Lawrence for another year, wasting unnecessary time. We will not support this bill unless an independent finance control board is put into place immediately.

Given the decision of newly elected Mayor and State Representative William Lantigua to collect two public salaries despite the financial disaster in his hometown, the taxpayers of the Commonwealth deserve a legislative plan that protects their investment. Governor Patrick and Lieutenant Governor Murray dropped the ball in its handling of this legislation by not demanding Mayor/Rep. Lantigua to either resign from his State Representative position or at the very least give up one of his two taxpayer funded salaries. Along with holding two positions at the same time, Mayor/Rep. Lantigua’s bad press is making it harder for his colleagues to support the legislation. Mayor/Rep. Lantigua needs to be wearing one and only one hat right now – and that is being a committed full time mayor. There’s no doubt that Lawrence needs state intervention and maybe Mayor/Rep. Lantigua can save the sinking ship, but it will require his full commitment and attention to do so.