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“We have come to a point where the private sector is having great trouble affording the public sector.”

— Democratic Senate Ways and Means Chair Steven C. Panagiotakos, as quoted by the Boston Herald, 5/10/2010

It’s not just the tea party complaining about the size and expense of the government. The real truth is that we haven’t been able to afford our state government in decades. In a state that is required to balance the budget each year, we have accumulated about $22 billion dollars in unfunded defined benefit-pension liability (the annual budget is roughly $30 billion). Even worse, the Massachusetts’ health- care and other post-employment benefit programs are only 1.79 percent funded (last statistics are for 2008). See www.pewcenteronthestates.org.

The good news about retirement plans is that we have numbers to work with. How much have project-labor agreements, the so-called “prevailing wage” projects cost us? Do you think they might have added to the cost of the Big Dig? How much did they add to the new high school in Groton, or will add to a parking garage in Ayer? Twenty years ago, Bill Weld wanted to open up state workers to private competition, but the Legislature passed the infamous Pacheco law that effectively made privatization impossible. How much has that cost? We just don’t know.

For 18 of the last 20 years, the Democrats have had a veto-proof majority in the Legislature. Our Republican governors functioned, at best, as speed bumps. The Legislature has even overridden Gov. Deval Patrick’s paltry efforts to control spending. With the auditor’s office in the hands of the Democrats for the last 20 years, efforts to provide transparency have been invisible. If you are happy with the status quo in the commonwealth, by all means continue to vote in more Democrats. If, however, you are hoping for real change, I would suggest that you consider the Republican alternative.

JEFFREY WALLENS

Groton

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