Editorial: Absent at the State House

Boston, we have a problem.

Through 10 months, declining tax receipts have left a $462 million revenue gap that needs to be closed in the final two months of the fiscal year.

The March unemployment rate of 3.6 percent is tied for the 13th lowest in the nation. Despite that, the state’s real gross domestic product declined at an estimated annual rate of 0.5 percent in the first quarter of 2017, according to the economic journal Mass Benchmarks. The U.S. economy, on the other hand, grew at a rate of 0.7 percent in the first quarter.

This led state Rep. Paul Donato, D-Medford, to say: “It’s hard for us to really figure out what’s happening because our unemployment rate is low, the economy is very well in Massachusetts [and] the jobs are there. We’re sitting back saying, ‘What is stymieing our benchmark figures?’ ”

Sun Spots with Hitch [Vol. 162]: For Petty and Gaffney, it’s child’s play

Kids don’t interact they same way they used to. Mostly we peg the lack of discourse and facility with understanding disparate viewpoints on our ever-accelerating attachment to technology.

But what it really comes down to is a lack of grownup good examples.

If a youngster ever does look up from their phone, what do they see? Bitter hyperbole. Sarcastic nonsense. Egomaniacal posturing. And that’s just in City Council chambers.

Hitch, for one, has heard enough.

Editorial: City Council’s dog squabble deserves motherly rebuke

Don’t have children? Or are the children grown and gone?

Well, if you live in Worcester you can take heart this Mother’s Day anyway.

You’ve got the City Council.

Just kidding — mostly. But the word “childish” did get bandied about like a birthday balloon at last Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

And what, this time, caused the yapping and snarling that broke out in the chamber?

A dog, of course! A free, smart, useful, probably cute-as-a-button K-9 proposed for the police department.

Sun Spots with Hitch [Vol. 161]: Worcester’s dirty little secret

There’s always lots going in Worcester. Union Station and the commuter rail, new restaurants, PCBs, sanctuary city status and City Hall open mic nights.

While we all revel in the Railers’ future hockey glory and fret over the fates of beloved landmarks like Mount Carmel and Notre Dame churches, there’s one Little Headline That Could earnestly steaming toward an unsightly conclusion.

Hitch had to roll up his sleeves for this one.

Editorial: Is $15 worth the fight?

The origins of the movement for a $15 minimum wage, the Fight for $15, began with a one-day strike in November 2012 by fast-food workers in New York City.

After years of high-profile victories such as in Seattle, California and New York City, the movement is either becoming an international phenomenon or in its death throes depending on your point of view.

The Massachusetts Legislature is considering raising the state’s minimum wage to $15. House bill No. 2365, sponsored by Worcester Rep. Daniel M. Donahue, and Senate bill No. 1004 seek an escalation of the minimum wage to $15 by 2021.

Locally, Councilor at-large Khrystian E. King proposed a resolution calling for the City Council to support the Legislature’s efforts to raise the minimum wage to $15. The Council passed the resolution last night by a vote of 8-3.

Sun Spots with Hitch [Vol. 160]: Paying tribute, with Bill Coleman

Worcester’s favorite perennial political runner-up and adjunct public servant is a regular presence, well, pretty much anywhere in the city.

But mostly at City Council meetings, where he tries to keep councilors on the ball and constantly stokes awareness for often important under-the-radar issues. Sometimes, though, Coleman’s suggestions miss the mark — such as his recent request to more than double the mayor’s salary.

Hitch, predictably, found that notion for the birds.

Editorial: On health care, a sickening display

Republicans’ years-long, devil-may-care and glaringly unprepared push to repeal and replace Obamacare has households across the country today confused and scared, and rightfully so.

Last week, the national sickness that is politics took a turn for the worse.

The U.S. House barely passed its atrocious healthcare legislation, then gathered in all-Republican force at the White House Rose Garden as if in triumph.

It’s not, first of all, a triumph in the furious quest to overturn Obamacare just yet. This dishearteningly flawed bill, the House’s second try at writing a healthcare measure since President Trump took office, must next face the Senate, where the knee-jerk “repeal” reflex is less pronounced.

Some Republican senators have already signaled a more cautious approach to this serious and complex matter. And in terms of party representation, the Senate makeup leaves them less margin for error.

We will surely get better from that chamber. The hope, now, is that Americans in need of universal, high-quality health care will get far better treatment than received from the House.

Editorial: Small businesses an important economic driver

Nearly half of all Americans employed in private-sector jobs work for a small business, which is defined as a business with fewer than 100 employees.

Those firms represent almost all (99.7 percent) of the businesses in the country.

This week is National Small Business Week, which was started in 1963 to recognize the contributions of what has become a vital economic driver.

Data released last month by the U.S. Census Bureau demonstrates the importance of small businesses in Worcester County.

Editorial: Reaching troubled youth through art

It’s hard to imagine creating art, or looking carefully at art, without connecting it to yourself.

Maybe that’s what a participant in Arts Alternative meant when he or she said, “In art, I will always find my peace.”

That quote from a troubled youth was among several read by a Worcester Art Museum volunteer to a group gathered April 20 to celebrate an art exhibit that was displayed for several days at Worcester Trial Court.