I know I’m going to sound like a broken record, but, once again, a major part of the stimulus should have been to make up state budget shortfalls, which stemmed from the economic recession. Not only is it good economic policy (what’s the point of the federal government putting people to work, only to have state governments fire other people), but those state budget cuts reduce services:
Franklin Park Zoo, a Boston institution that has drawn generations of city and suburban families, may be forced to close its doors and possibly euthanize some of its animals as a result of the deep budget cuts imposed by Governor Deval Patrick, zoo officials said yesterday.
Without more state funding, those zoo officials said, they will run out of money by October and have to close both the Franklin Park Zoo and its smaller counterpart, Stone Zoo in Stoneham. The zoo would lay off most of its 165 employees and attempt to find new homes for more than 1,000 animals, the officials said.
The zoo officials, in a written statement that echoed a letter sent earlier to legislative leaders, said they would be unlikely to find homes for at least 20 percent of the animals, “requiring either destroying them or the care of the animals in perpetuity.”
The zoos, which are both run by Zoo New England and attracted nearly 570,000 visitors over the past year, are operated through a public-private partnership funded by taxpayers and revenues from visitors. If the partnership dissolves, as it could in October if it runs out of money, the custody of the zoos is turned over to state officials, according to state law.
Zoo officials estimate that it would take three years and cost at least $9 million to completely shut down the zoos, and they said the state would be in charge of that process.
The Legislature had originally provided $6.5 million to the zoos – which accounts for more than half of its budget – but Patrick, using a line-item veto, cut the state funding to $2.5 million….
“The only areas left to cut are in nonanimal care, revenue-generating departments,” the zoos statement reads. “This would result in a bare bones staff that would care for the animals and the facility, but would eliminate any that would service the public.”
Even the threat of closures illustrates the far-reaching consequences of state budget cuts and the fallout they can have on those who make the decisions. As word of the crisis broke, Patrick and his entire Cabinet, senior aides, and political advisers were gathered yesterday at the governor’s estate in the Berkshires, plotting strategy for the months ahead.
Biology is one of our local industries, so it’s really stupid to get children interested in biology. This is just a kindler, gentler version of the War of Science: instead of claiming that science will make the Little Baby Jesus cry, you set up a false choice between helping poor people and the zoo.
Shame on Governor Patrick.