Gov-elect Michael S Dukakis met with more than 20 Massachusetts mayors at the Harvard-affiliated Joint Center for Urban Studies yesterday, promising to work closely with municipal leaders in overcoming current budget erraes.
Dukakis, who served as governor between 1975 and 1979, boasted of the urban renewal policy he developed during his previous administration Saying he would make a systematic effort to build up his his local ties, he pledged to guarantee a stable source of state revenue when he returns to the State House Corner Office in January.
It was the largest group of city officials Dukakis has met with since the November 2 election
The hour-long juncheon discussion concluded a two-day Institute of Politics conference for Commonwealth mayors During their Harvard visit, the city officials also heard from legislative leaders and talked with K. School faculty about financial management, press relations, and labor issues.
Yesterday's workshop served as a homecoming for Dukakis, who taught at the K. School from the time he left office until the start of his recent campaign Joint Center Director H James Brown noted yesterday that the mayors conference was a "direct result" of Dukakis's work on the school's State and Local Executive Program, which he helped direct during his K. School years
After Dukakis finished his general remarks he fielded questions from the mayors Several of the municipal leaders expressed concern over the availability of state funds this year Dukakis responded that his revenue-sharing plan--giving 40 percent of all new state revenues to municipalities--should bolster the element of certainty for those drawing up local budgets
In addition to outlining a new state financial system. Dukakis vowed to lobby for more federal aid. "I'll see if we can convince that fellow in the White House that cities are important," he said
Dukakis also rejected one mayor's suggestion that sales taxes be increased to provide more revenues, saying. "New taxes have got to be viewed as a last resort, not a first resort"
Following the luncheon. Dukakis said the session would provide a good basis for future discussion with the mayors A few mayors interviewed said that they heard nothing new in the brief discussion, but were reassured that the governor-elect had their interests in mind
Lawrence LeFebre. mayor of Lawrence, said that Dukakis's experience was encouraging, adding. "He's aware of what's been happening"
Earlier in the day, the group met with Sen Paul E Tsongas (D-Mass), who spoke about the need for cities to help faster growth in high-technology fields