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Give the prison mitigation money back

July 13, 2011

Many months ago, I was passionately advocating on this blog for the prison mitigation money to be brought back to Walpole. In fact, it was one of the biggest reasons why I wanted Deval Patrick voted out of office last year.

Now I have changed my mind in light of the below reasons.

A few reasons why Walpole should give the prison mitigation money back:

1. Walpole does not need it
As outlined here, here, and here, Walpole has plenty of money already and needs to figure out how to spend it wisely before they should get any more money. I support more closely scrutinizing the town budget before accepting any additional state aid. Far more than $750,000, the value of the prison mitigation money, could be gained by eliminating town employee raises, longevity pay, and the useless Economic Development Officer.

2. It is patently unfair
Walpole was the only town in the state with a prison that received the money, and I do not support the idea of communities battling each other on Beacon Hill to obtain as much pork as possible. All communities should work together to achieve a high amount of local aid for communities, and the idea that one community should be put ahead of everyone else is disconcerting.

3. It is an earmark that our legislators are using to buy votes

State Rep. John Rogers who barely won re-election last year and knows that he is vulnerable again in 2012, appears to have been the driving force for Walpole to get the prison mitigation money and there is a reason for that. While I do believe Rep. Rogers probably genuinely wanted to help Walpole in whatever way he could, there is very likely another motivation as to why he pushed so hard and so vigorously in that he wants to show that he is pro-Walpole for his campaign next year. That he was a leader of this effort to bring the money back to Walpole will definitely be on his campaign literature next year.

All of our other local legislators were falling over themselves to be quoted in a press release praising the prison mitigation money and talking about how they helped in bringing it to Walpole. They all want to be seen as aiding in the initiative to bring more pork to Walpole, and it appears to be working, as from now on, they will all will be cited as the “heroes” who brought Walpole more money in dire financial straits while every other town floundered. Do not let your legislators buy your vote this way.

4. The money appears to be on shaky financial footing.

As the Pioneer Institute reports, the entire state budget is built on the presumption that billions of dollars can be saved from healthcare costs and by pushing off pension obligations to future years. This is irresponsible budgeting on the part of our state policy-makers. Further, the presumed savings may not materialize as expected, meaning that there could be mid-year emergency cuts from the governor and prison mitigation could be the first to go. Walpole officials should not be too quick to rely on the funding this year.

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