Another week, another cockup by the allegedly competent managers in the Scott administration. This time it’s a mysteriously sidelined program to give retention bonuses to child care workers. The Legislature approved $7 million for the purpose in the spring; now it’s September, and the administration not only hasn’t spent a dime of the money, it has no idea when it will.
Meanwhile, child care is already difficult to find getting harder, as operators are stretched to the limit because of a lack of workers.
Seven Days‘ Alison Novak broke the story on Monday. As she tells it, the state Department for Children and Families’ Child Development Division has given out precious little information — and what they have disclosed is riven with inconsistencies and unmet deadlines.
Which raises the question, does the administration really want to spend the money at all? If they did, you’d think they would have gotten it going by now. The only other explanation is incompetence of a kind that we are seeing regularly from this regime.
We’re still dealing with the Education Agency’s failure to issue clear or timely advice on whether to mandate masking for classes with high-risk students. Before that, we had the sudden discovery that an urgently-needed rental assistance program was almost out of money, which led the administration to propose radical and almost immediate cuts.
Those three stories are from this month alone. Timing, folks. The governor is running for re-election, you might have noticed, and the Brenda Siegel campaign hardly needs to do opposition research because there’s plenty of material in the public record. I don’t know whether it will be enough to pierce the veil of putative competence that enshrouds Team Scott, but now is not the time to test the boundaries of the electorate’s credulity.
Then there’s last year’s kerfuffle from the trouble-plagued Department of Labor. In the spring of 2021, the Legislature approved a supplemental $25 per week unemployment benefit. It was part of a deal with Scott; he okayed the unemployment supplement in exchange for generous tax breaks for businesses.
Well, the businesses got their break, but the jobless didn’t get their money. In late August, Labor Commissioner Michael Harrington informed the Legislature that the federal government wouldn’t allow the supplement to be paid out of federal Covid relief. Too bad, so sad.
Problem is, he learned of the feds’ decision two and a half months earlier, and didn’t inform the Legislature at a time when they could have done do something about it. That was the fourth known administrative failure on Harrington’s watch, and yet he still has a job.
Well, failure slash deception, take your pick. Neither one is a good look.
The conventional wisdom has it that the voters are satisfied with Scott as a competent shepherd of state government — he isn’t exactly cutting edge, but he won’t screw anything up. A nice change of pace from Peter Shumlin, to be sure.
But there’s a growing pile of evidence that Scott is not a competent manager, he just plays one on TV. Will it finally hurt him at the ballot box? History suggests no, but remember what the prospectus says: Past performance is no guarantee of future results.