People don’t like paying taxes. It’s like the dentist — not fun but necessary for a healthy life. Some like Geoff Diehl oppose taxation — believing that government is the problem. He is calling for Governor Baker to veto the already overdue $4B spending bill. If he did, the House and Senate would override his veto. I doubt Baker will blow up his popularity for such a stunt but it worries me that the new standard-bearer for Republicans is calling for cheap theatrical tricks. His anti-government rhetoric would deny desperately needed funds to the Commonwealth.
The Federal Government barely works these days but there have been some successes. Congress passed an extraordinary spending bill that will bring billions of dollars to the Commonwealth. Millions are being invested in work programs, clean energy infrastructure, and clean water. Locally, programs like the Middlesex County Restoration Center will receive $5,000,000 to improve mental health and substance use diversion programs, the Billerica Town Hall auditorium will receive upgrades, and the Howe School Restoration project is getting an infusion of federal funds — saving Billerica taxpayers $110,000.
H.4269 focused on economic recovery, our healthcare system, housing, workforce development, transportation upgrades, and environmental protection. I have some concerns but the overall package is something to be proud of. Earmarks were used to infuse money into hyperlocal projects. Earmarks are intended to reduce tax burdens on residents, reduce a town’s debt, or fund large-scale projects. I encourage everyone to look at what your State Representative and State Senator brought to the table. What kind of projects did they advocate for and why?
In Billerica, only two projects were accepted in the House and they were both for economic recovery. It’s frustrating that we don’t have anyone advocating for funds to improve the town website (like Natick — $200,000), or for additional staff and PPE at the Billerica Council on Aging (Brookline — $165,000), or to fund the design and construction of the proposed Intergenerational Center (Brockton — $1,000,000). Our water quality will not be addressed. The Dutile is still falling apart. Housing in our town will not be improved through this bill like in Arlington, Natick, Lexington, Beverly, Andover, Holyoke, Lowell, and dozens of others.
So much money is being left on the table and Billerica deserves better.