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Financial priorities are out of whack

Date: 2/6/2012

In January, the state announced $14 million will be released for improvement to parks and recreational sites across the state. One million will go to a rail trail in Westfield. In a similar vein, several months ago, the state released over a million dollars to fund a number of arts programs in various cities.

No one would say that arts and parks are not deserving of financial support, when extra funds are available. But when funds are drastically reduced for fuel assistance, homelessness, and antihunger organizations, something’s out of whack in our priorities. Many social service agencies run at sizeable deficits made up only by voluntary donations from the community. Yet the state has actually reduced funding for many of them due to the ongoing budget crunch. In 2008, for example, the administration cut a $100,000-plus food earmark from one of our local non-profits, and has yet to restore those funds, even though unemployment remains very high.

Some of that $14 million would go a long way towards helping unemployed and homeless people if it were distributed to, say, HAP Housing, CareerPoint, Heating Oil subsidies, Open Pantry, Community Survival Center, etc. Or perhaps the unemployed and the hungry can go walk through the nicely refurbished parks come next fall.

R. Patrick Henry Jr.

East Longmeadow

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