Facing an uncertain economic future

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Spring blossoms at the Massachusetts State House. (Photo by Jim Mahoney)

Everett is not alone in the national struggle to preserve our economy, to reopen it and for it to begin heading down the road to recovery.

We all want to be where we were before the Coronavirus and our reaction to it was to shut down the economy and our society and to employ social distancing.

At this moment, the city faces major hurdles in meeting its financial obligations. Without tax income pouring into the treasury, the city is a reflection of our private financial lives, all of which are in a state of ruin until we figure out how to get out of this and back to normal.

There will be a new normal. Things will not naturally go back to the way they were anytime soon.

What Everett’s leaders must be focused on is how to reopen the city’s public schools in the fall if this is possible. At the same time, everyone must understand that the city cannot pay School Department salaries as they exist today if the budget won’t allow for it – so adjustments in employment at the School Department are inevitably likely to be made.

It is simple math.

You can’t pay salaries if you don’t have the cash in the city treasury.

This implies that the state will need to supplement all city and town budgets with cash from its Rainy Day Fund in order to sustain present spending and to honor contracts for the coming year.

The state, however, is facing a Federal government that appears to be unwilling to supplement their budgets by filling the money gaps so business in the public schools can go on next year as they did last year.

This is true for municipal employees as well.

Unless and until the Federal government steps up to the plate, the coming year is looking like a potential mind blowing disaster.

The cost for staggered schedules so large numbers of students don’t congregate in the public schools at the same time is as problematic as the distancing that will need to be followed in individual classrooms. All of this is about costly impossibility as it is about the new normal.

Our society as a whole also faces the same difficulties in coming back. How are the elderly to make it through this crisis that kills them at a much faster clip than anyone else?

What do we do to protect them in our public housing, nursing homes and assisted living situations?

With about 30 million unemployed as of this week, the compelling question is how to get the nation’s economy going again? How do large businesses reopen? How do they attract large swarms of customers as was the case before the virus?

There are more questions than answers right now.

Budget time is upon us.

We are facing a catastrophe – but we will get through it. This is not the end of our world.

But the world we awaken to now is a vastly different place than it was just two months ago.

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