"Where's the fairness?" asked Representative Jim Lyons of Andover.
Lyons was referring to the excessive funding that the Patrick Administration and Beacon Hill Democrats reserve for the City of Lawrence, even while its politicians and bureaucrats are investigated, indicted, prosecuted, and convicted.
Just this week two former top aides to Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua, including his ex-chief of staff, were indicted. In the recent past, former Lawrence School Superintendent Wilfredo LaBoy was convicted of fraud and larceny. According to news reports, law enforcement investigations into Lawrence City Hall practices are continuing. "The policy of the Patrick Administration seems to be one of rewarding a corrupt and incompetent city government with more and more state taxpayer funds," Lyons emphasized. "Otherwise, why would you want to pour good tax dollars after bad into a City Hall rife with malfeasance?
"At the same time," the Andover Republican noted, "the Patrick Administration opposes our efforts to increase Local Aid for communities that have honest, effective, and efficient town governments. That's not fair. That's not equitable. It has to change."
Continuing his advocacy for increased local aid for the 18th Essex District, Representative Lyons renewed his call to fully fund Target Share of Chapter 70. He pointed to the yawning gap between the amounts Beacon Hill Democrats will spend on Lawrence, while they constantly try to chip away at Local Aid for well-run towns in the 18th Essex District.
"In the last legislative session," Lyons said, "I proposed fully funding Target Share for education. The Patrick Administration fought against my proposal, which would have - for example - added another $2.75 million for Andover and three-quarters of a million dollars for North Andover.
"With bipartisan support from our Republican Caucus and many Democrats," Lyons added, "we succeeded in adding some monies to the underfunded Target Share. I will continue my legislative fight for fairness in funding, until the state reaches full funding of Target Share.
"It is jarring to note," he observed, "that our state taxpayers are obligated to pay $152 million dollars to the Lawrence School system. That's more than 90% of that city's school budget. Meanwhile, towns like Andover and North Andover receive only a little over 15% of their school funding from state sources.
"The Patrick Administration is shortchanging school systems that work," Lyons continued. "That's why we need to fully fund Target Share of Chapter 70.