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Globe editorial

Short fuse

June 28, 2009
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Privatization: Just baby steps
Reform at the State House tends to be two steps forward, one step back. So it was that after the state Senate mustered up the gumption to loosen the Pacheco Law, which severely restricts the state’s ability to save money by hiring private contractors for services, the final budget surrendered most of that gain. The Senate had raised the size of the contracts that trigger the Pacheco requirements from $200,000 to $2 million. But the budget that emerged from conference committee cut that back to $500,000. What’s it all mean? Simply this: Placating the public-employee unions ultimately proved more important than saving taxpayer dollars.

Cahill: Another bad gamble
Treasurer Timothy Cahill might have expected that the state’s bid to join the multistate Powerball lottery consortium would be rejected. After all, when he begged the Legislature for permission to join Powerball, he admitted that five competing New England states had nixed the proposal on a previous try. But Cahill, who touted the plan as a revenue-raiser worth $25 million to $40 million, neglected to notify the Legislature that a majority of the 30 participating states had voted down the bid May 27, according to the Boston Herald. Then, there was still time to amend the state budget and remove the $25 million lawmakers had included in anticipated revenues. Now, the budget sitting on the governor’s desk is $25 million out of balance. Isn’t attention to such fiscal details just what we elect a treasurer to do?

Census: Put politics on hold
Can the Republican Party’s effort to undermine the 2010 Census be any more transparent? In April, President Obama nominated Robert Groves, director of the Survey Research Center at the University of Michigan, to head the US Census Bureau as it heads into the next constitutionally required counting of Americans. The Groves nomination was hailed by the past five census directors of both parties. But an unnamed Senate Republican has placed a “hold’’ on the nomination. The GOP claims it is worried about “sampling,’’ a controversial statistical method that Groves says he will not use. Surely the GOP’s squeamishness couldn’t have more to do with plans to actually enumerate hard-to-find groups such as immigrants, non-English speaking residents, and low-income people who usually vote Democratic - could it?

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