Follow the leaders

By EDITORIAL  |  December 30, 2008

But in 2009, the revenue gap is likely to be a chasm. Already, more than $1 billion has been cut from the current fiscal year's budget, which runs through June, and another $750 million may still need to be slashed. State social services, already reduced, will be cut further, but word is spreading that some of that $750 million will come from local aid. Municipalities across the Commonwealth are already imposing hiring freezes and other cost-saving measures in anticipation. Things will only get more grim.

With Patrick preparing to release his proposed FY2010 budget later this month, political leaders at the State House are warning of local-aid cuts as deep as 10 percent. Local papers are reporting possible city layoffs from Agawam to Orleans. The Globe has reported that Boston's school department might cut its budget by 15 percent. These cuts are going to force very difficult decisions about what services to continue or eliminate.

It will be easy to react angrily, when it's your child's classroom bulging with too many students per teacher, or your road not getting repaved this spring, or the domestic-violence shelter in your town forced to shut down. Especially as the charities and not-for-profit organizations, which provide aid and comfort across all sectors of people's needs, will also find themselves less able to sustain their levels of contribution.

What we need is leadership, from Governor Patrick all the way to town administrators. We need them to be as open as possible with the decisions they make, and to call upon their constituents to face this tough time together.

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