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Keller @ Large: Why Can't Massachusetts Balance A Budget?

BOSTON (CBS) - As the summer tourist invasion of our little corner of paradise begins, we are reminded of what an asset our history is.

It's why they flock here, instead of some less-interesting town in one of the lesser 49 states.

But there are some aspects of our history that aren't so wonderful. Like our unfortunate but totally predictable habit of spending beyond our means.

The state revealed Tuesday that tax revenue is running up to $750 million less than forecast, a familiar sight to those of us who've been around Beacon Hill for a while.

As usual, they relied too heavily on capital gains receipts that can rise or fall as fast as Wall Street can.

As always, most of the revenue growth that did occur has been eaten up by the perennial budget busters - pensions, debt service and health care.

But fiscal prudence and planning traditionally struggle to keep pace up there with the demand for spending and the refusal to raise taxes, a sustainable model only in boom times.

And it looks like our familiar problem isn't likely to go away soon. Local CPAs say they expect the stock market slowdown and a downward trend in retail sales and business profits to continue through the rest of the year.

So keep a watchful eye on your governor and legislators. They need to adapt to this entirely predictable situation, and do it fairly quickly, which smart people of goodwill should be able to do.

Unless, that is, they didn't anticipate this happening.

In which case, you might wonder – what on earth were they thinking?

Listen to Jon's commentary:

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