for State Senate

Middlesex & Worcester

 

Fiscal Sustainability


Terra believes we can be committed to our ideals AND achieve "fiscal sustainability".


As a small business person, she has decades of experience not only operating her own business, but helping others start businesses and cooperatives. And she has experience finding that balance.


To her, "fiscal sustainability" means:


* preserving the middle class, and the affordability of basic living for all income levels [including keeping taxation affordable].


* keeping government in check, while also getting what we need from our government.


* ensuring real-time fiscal transparency so we can hold government accountable


* being able to measurably distinguish between an  investment in our community and giving free money away needlessly


* preserving property value while also respecting that we each have the right to exist and to do so, we each have the right to the basics required to live.


This is a tall order. But Terra thinks we can do it. Or more correctly, Terra thinks we HAVE to do it if we want our experiment with democracy to survive and flourish.


To her, achieving fiscal sustainability starts with good planning, respecting that there are limits to everything. Limits to "property rights". Limits to what people should be able to do with property. Limits to spending. Limits to water. Limits to road capacity. Limits to physical space. 


Currently, this planning does not exist, where we need it the most..


Terra believes we can fix it. But we must understand the problems first.


Our state government does not actually have a process to ensure that decisions examine long term "fiscal sustainability". Land use decisions (zoning, etc) do not have a requirement to examine the impact on local roads and/or water quantity/quality.


Yes, there are now, in place (yay!) requirements to analyze the "fiscal impact" of a bill. BUT those impacts are very limited in scope. They do NOT examine the "net cost" to the individual. These impacts look solely at the expected impact of money coming in and going out of the state agencies. BUT most of the ACTUAL fiscal impact is left out of this analysis: The impact to the individual. How much does their healthcare cost? How will this impact their housing costs? How much will their local taxes increase to mitigate the damage done to the environment?


Terra has a list of solutions that start with accountability for state agencies which are creating unfunded mandates. We need to understand who is impacting fiscal sustainability where and when.


We also need to stop thinking that "growth" will solve our problems.


Too often, politicians rely on "economic growth" and "new tax revenues" to solve problems. Rarely does "growth" pay for itself in "new tax revenues" and we have to stop believing it will.


Too often, politicians will promote "investment" in growth by giving developers and private corporations "zoning relief" or tax-breaks or even grants, with the promise that the money will come back to us in "jobs" or "new tax revenues".


This rarely pans out. Instead, we take the risk. And they take the profit. They move out of the area, after causing all kinds of infrastructure problem and debt.


Terra has a history of "outing" plans by government officials to engage in short sighted "investment" in development. She has dedicated decades of her life to understanding the metrics around these types of [what turn out to be bad] "investments".


She believes that there are three major IMMEDIATE actions we can take to ensure fiscal sustainability:

 

1. stop state agencies from advocating for industry-sponsored bills, such as zoning relief for developers and other private profit schemes. Let the developer/industry pay to put it on the ballot. If the plans are so good for us. bring it to the ballot and let us decide.


2. start a state bank, to stop subsidizing private banks to the tune of tens of millions of dollars/year.


3. stop state agencies from "investing" in public infrastructure that developers should be paying for.


4. "invest" in preserving open space, historic character [this helps our property values which justifies any increase in taxes to support other "high return on investment" (ROI).


5. ensure that our social problems are solved most efficiently. Far too often, social programs cost more than they need to.


6. require all fiscal reporting to be available in Excel, real-time, to allow the public to be able to analyze the numbers on their own.


Many of these solutions may seem "radical" but when the ship is headed for the rocks, the "radical " solution may actually be what saves us.


Terra believes that the solutions she's gathered [they are not "hers" but those of a long list of experts] are not actually radical but very fiscally conservative because she believes that they will be more  affordable in the long run.


PLEASE STAY TUNED AS SHE POSTS DETAILS! 

Terra, a former municipal official with  decades of business experience, believes we are in a state of crisis. And if we do not immediately embrace fiscally, environmentally, and socially sustainable solutions, that our lives will change dramatically and irrecoverably in our lifetimes.