BOSTON (AP) At a time when public safety is foremost in
everyone's minds because of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the state's budget shortfall could mean cuts to what is often
called the first line of defense against terrorism local police and fire departments.
Acting Gov. Jane Swift's administration faces a $1.1 billion
budget shortfall because of an expected $750 million drop in tax revenues. That drop in expected revenues from $16.3
billion to $15.6 billion is forcing the administration to consider up to $600 million in cuts.
Local aid, a quarter of the state's budget, could be
trimmed, secretary of Administration and Finance Stephen Crosby said on Thursday.
"The state is looking at $600 million in spending cuts to
achieve a balanced budget and that means there's a lot on the table to discuss," Crosby spokesman Dominick Ianno said....
Local aid cuts are almost inevitable said Michael J.
Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation.
"Obviously the state has to be careful not to undercut
public safety, but at the same time the state has been enormously generous to the cities and towns for the last seven
years," Widmer said. "Almost certainly they're going to have to share in the pain." ...
The bulk of local aid goes to education, police and fire
departments, said Treasurer Shannon O'Brien. If education is to remain untouched, "the only thing that's left is police
departments and fire departments," she said.
"Not only are the people who work in police and fire
departments concerned about these cuts, but the general public has a much more heightened concern about public safety issues,"
she said. "People are going to be very troubled by cuts in local aid."
The state budget crunch will be worsened by the next phase
of the state income tax rollback, to 5.3 percent from 5.6 percent, said Secretary of State William Galvin. The rollback,
approved by voters last year, ought to be delayed, he said.
"(A delay) might be palatable if those funds were dedicated
to public safety and education," Galvin said.
The Boston Herald
Saturday, October 27, 2001
Swift says she won't go for delay in tax cut
by Karen E. Crummy
WASHINGTON - Acting Gov. Jane Swift yesterday said she has no
intention of backing off a $1.2 billion income tax cut despite new fiscal belt-tightening in the wake of the Sept. 11
"This is the worst time to cancel a tax cut," Swift said,
pointing to a fiscal "cushion" consisting of billions in cash reserves and unemployment and welfare trust funds. "As long as
we act early we can somewhat curtail spending."
The tax cut, highly touted by former Gov. Paul Cellucci but
criticized by Democrats as fiscally irresponsible, was passed by voters last year. It is due to be phased in over the next
Earlier this week, state Democratic senators moved to delay
the tax reduction for a year after hearing of a projected $1.1 billion budgetary shortfall.
But Swift, speaking to a breakfast meeting hosted by The
Christian Science Monitor, said that capital spending will remain untouched and she will not allow a raid of education
Yet she admitted that operating costs will be curtailed
The Boston Herald
Saturday, October 27, 2001
Activists plan protest of human service cuts
by Elisabeth J. Beardsley
Hundreds of umbrella-wielding activists will descend on the
State House next week to protest at least $500 million in looming state budget cuts.
From huge golf sunshades to tiny cocktail umbrellas, the
activists' message is -- it's raining on the fiscal front. More than 500 protesters are expected at the State House on
With programs for kids, seniors and human services facing
the ax, activists want the state to dip deep into the $1.8 billion rainy day fund and freeze the phased-in income tax cut.
"There's a monsoon raining down on us," said Human Services
Coalition Director Steve Collins. "It's time to look at reasonable alternatives."
Elder advocates are alarmed by the Administration and
Finance Secretary Stephen Crosby's suggestion that the state might scale back its expensive new senior pharmacy program.
Mass. Senior Action Council President Phil Mamber said he's
marshaling seniors, a reliable voting bloc, to lobby every member of the Legislature to save the "lifesaver" program.
"I think it would be much more appropriate to scrap Steve
Crosby than to scrap that program," Mamber said.
Crosby said every program has to be considered for cuts,
with the state facing a $1.1 billion budget deficit that could widen further....
Legislative leaders, who are still working on the 119-day-late budget, say the deficit could be
as much as $1.5 billion.
Earlier this week, Crosby outlined a plan to cut $600
million, tap $300 million in cash reserves, and take an extra $200 million from the state's annual tobacco settlement.
Among the programs being eyed for cuts is the roughly $5
billion the state sends to cities and towns in local aid.
Education money, which all state leaders have pledged to try
to protect, makes up $4 billion of local aid.
Other local aid, which Crosby said may be subject to
potential cuts, includes $500 million in discretionary funds, $63 million in water and sewer rate relief, $40 million for
road and bridge projects and $25 million for libraries.
Massachusetts Municipal Association Director Geoffrey
Beckwith said any local aid cuts would result in layoffs of police and firefighters, and reductions in basic services.
"There are some items, if you cut into them, the blood will
run deeper," Beckwith said.
State House News Service
Weekly Roundup - Week of Oct. 22, 2001
By Craig Sandler
STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, OCT. 25, 2001 ... Beacon Hill turned its
attention this week to a prime lagging economic indicator of the post-Reagan era: tax cuts.
Down in Washington, now that the good times have gone the
way of "our crowded skies" and the Gary Condit obsession, Congress has begun a debate over whether cutting taxes
even beyond the 2001 Bush reduction will save jobs, businesses and industries. This
approach is seen as stupidity by a sizeable contingent at the Capitol -- the equivalent of a
person cutting back her hours at work the same month she starts making
payments on a new home.
The same thing is happening at the State House. State
government has been ordered by voter referendum to ratchet down the Massachusetts income tax rate over the next three
years, taking $1.2 billion out of the revenue side of the budget. With
the economy crumbling and a $1.1 budget deficit looming, two cries went up this week: "Speed up the tax cut!" from
some in the business community, and "Cancel the tax cut!" from some on
the left. The "leave it alone" crowd, the moderates, eschew the exclamation point.