Massachusetts finds itself on the horns of a rather tricky dilemma. Last September, the legislature voted to earmark $25 million to help house, feed, and take care of Hurricane Katrina refugees. It was a great gesture, showing that the Commonwealth can, occasionally, do the right thing.
But now they’ve found themselves in a slightly embarassing position. The refugees are pretty much all gone (I suspect that New Orleaners weren’t capable of handling a New England winter on top of everything else), and the state finds itself having only spent about $6 million on their care. What should they do with the remaining $19 million?
Some lawmakers think that the money should be spent on housing, but this time on the state’s own homeless populace. Others say that since flooding was the cause of the disaster, it ought to go towards flooding problems in the western part of the state.
Governor Mitt Romney, as is all too common in the Commonwealth, is providing the sole voice of sanity. Romney says that since the money was taken from taxpayers for a very specific purpose, and most of it was not needed for that cause, it should be returned to those taxpayers.
I give it about a 5% chance of that happening. One simply does not give money to lawmakers — particularly Massachusetts lawmakers, overwhelmingly Democratic — and expect them to ever give it back, under any circumstances.