Editorial: Another year shortchanging our students

With the school year over and the end of the state’s fiscal year just days away it seems an appropriate time to lament another missed opportunity to address the inadequate funding of the commonwealth’s public schools.

Gov. Charlie Baker’s fiscal 2018 budget proposal included an increase of $91.4 million over fiscal 2017, to a total of $4.72 billion. The House ($15 million) and Senate ($40 million) each appropriated more in their budgets, which are now being reconciled before being sent to Baker.

While the increases are certainly a welcome development, they do little to address what many consider a long-term funding deficit and miscalculation of how those funds are distributed to municipalities. This is despite the fact that local education aid, known as Chapter 70, has increased an average of $126 million per year from 2011, according to a State House News Service article.

The state’s education funding formula, little changed since education reform was passed in 1993, has been shown to shortchange districts by $1 billion to $2 billion per year, according to the 2015 report of the Foundation Budget Review Commission.

Editorial: Horses on the force

Myra, Major, Justice and Midnight — that’s a nice set of names for some new public servants in Worcester.

Now all the horses have to do is prove their mettle.

They’re off to a good start. Residents who have had a chance to see members of the police department’s Mounted Patrol Unit since the unit’s official first day last Monday have reacted warmly and with curiosity.

That’s part of the idea.

A police officer on a horse doesn’t just have advantages in terms of visibility, crowd control and the ability to quickly traverse different kinds of terrain in an emergency. The likeability factor is hugely important, too. A police officer plus his or her 1,000-pound mount is an engaging and powerful combination, both majestic and accessible.

Related opinion: Mariano says making Worcester safe is no horseplay

Sun Spots with Hitch [Vol. 173]: Checking in on Worcester Citizen Advisory Council

You maybe heard a little about this committee’s unorthodox interview technique last week — probably in another blockbuster Sunday edition of Worcester Sun — so we won’t bore you with all the gory details.

Liberal do-gooders — well-meaning and civically engaged as they may be — can’t seem to get out of their own way when it comes to freedom of expression. Guilt by association appears to be their preferred legal theory.

Unfortunately for them, Hitch holds the gavel — and is ready to rule.

Sun Spots with Hitch [Vol. 172]: Warren, McGovern and Markey — oh my!

Republicans and Democrats have been taking aim at each other since long before Donald Trump commandeered the Oval Office.

Of course, once President Business took over, liberals have sharpened their sights — and their rhetoric.

More Hitch | What if … Worcester | Free to Read

Following the midweek shooting of GOP lawmakers and staff practicing for a congressional baseball game, though, the war of words among chief Trump antagonizers — and the bronzer-in-chief himself — appropriately took a knee.

Still, Hitch was a bit surprised.

Editorial: Leadership fails test over candidate’s Turtleboy tie

Everything was going fine at the staid Citizen Advisory Council (CAC) meeting June 8 until — 2 hours and 22 minutes in — it came time to vote on the lady who writes limericks.

Margaret Melican does much more than that, of course. As a longtime lawyer she brought serious credentials as a Zoning Board of Appeals aspirant. During her interview that night she was personable, professional and spoke of her love for her city.

It didn’t seem as if anything ominous was coming. As for the interviews that had come before her, the theme was willingness and ability to serve the city. The CAC, charged with recruiting and interviewing applicants for vacant positions on Worcester boards and commissions, almost always OKs candidates to move on for consideration by the city manager, which is the final decision-making step.

But nothing’s a lock — especially not if you’ve written limericks in the comment sections of a controversial local blog, and are subjected to interview questioning that crosses a line.

Editorial: Raising taxes by constitutional amendment

If all goes as expected today, Massachusetts will be one step closer to implementing a surtax on incomes in excess of $1 million.

It is assumed the Legislature will today vote to advance an amendment to the commonwealth’s constitution that would tax the portion of income in excess of $1 million at 4 percent higher than the state’s regular tax rate.

State legislators voted overwhelmingly for the amendment in the last legislative session. If it receives more than 50 votes today the issue moves to the 2018 state ballot, where voters will decide the amendment’s fate.

The debate over the amendment will play out over the course of the next election cycle, as will the mounting concern over the state’s ability to adequately fund its operations.

Editorial: Massachusetts should drop the mascot distraction

The Algonquin Tomahawks would get the axe if a bill on Beacon Hill advances. The Grafton and Ware Indians would be no more. About 30 or so other public schools in Massachusetts would also have to change their mascots.

We say to state legislators: Not so fast.

A bill banning American Indian-themed names for school sports teams had a joint hearing last week. The measure should be stopped in its tracks.

It’s an overreach, for starters.

Editorial: Oui, the people

It was less than a week ago that President Trump announced his intention to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord.

That the president’s statement bore only passing resemblance to the truth, that the White House’s transcript of the president’s speech contained fewer facts than mentions of the word “applause” (15) — these are matters we will leave for another time.

Additionally, international reaction — from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s disappointment with the “United States federal government” to French President Emmanuel Macron trolling Trump with a message that read “Make our planet great again” — is best reviewed in another forum.

What bears examination, and praise, here is the immediate and broad opposition that transcends political ideology, geographic boundaries and income level.

Sun Spots with Hitch [Vol. 169]: Staying cool, with Charlie Baker

It’s not easy being a Republican in Massachusetts — or, really, anywhere these days, what with President Aerosol chiseling new holes in the O-zone whenever he takes a break from tweeting jibberish.

Baker, though, has not been shy about disagreeing with Trump on health care and other socioeconomic issues; he again strayed from the pack to affirm the Bay State’s commitment to address climate change.

Hitch thinks this won’t be doing Baker any favors with the already-skeptical state GOP.

Editorial: In Worcester, a lesson in laundry and kindness

School supplies don’t usually come with spin cycles and buzzers. But a washer and dryer installed at Sullivan Middle School this year have made a difference for some students.

The administration is impressed enough that four more schools are in line to get the appliances next year.

The idea is less absenteeism, better student self-esteem, dignity — and knocking down small problems head-on so that schools can address the big stuff of teaching academic fundamentals and shaping futures.

It’s working, according to Sullivan Middle Principal Josephine Robertson.