Patrick's budget cuts include education items

Gov. Deval Patrick held a late afternoon press conference October 15 to announce cuts totaling $755 million to the FY09 budget.  In addition, he filed legislation that includes provisions to raise additional revenues and make other budget changes for which he needs legislative approval.  The House and Senate will hold caucuses October 16 to discuss this legislation.

Patrick has the power to make what are called 9C cuts to the budget without legislative approval in certain areas once revenues are projected to drop significantly. The budget deficit for FY09 is expected to reach $1.4 billion as a result of declining revenues. Neither local aid nor Chapter 70 can be cut unless the Legislature approves the cuts.

Funding cuts that take place immediately include:

  • PreK- 12 - $30 million
  • UMass - $24.8 million
  • State Colleges - $11 million
  • Community Colleges - $12 million
  • Early Education - $14 million

The governor filed legislation late in the day October 15 to increase revenues and make additional savings in the FY09 budget. Some of the major provisions include:

  • Increasing health insurance premiums for state employees. Employees making below $35,000 will pay 15 percent. Those making $35,000 to $50,000 will pay 20 percent and those with salaries over $50,000 will pay 25 percent. One estimate claims this shift will cost employees an estimated $28.5 million.
  • Extending the deadline for cities and towns to join the GIC from Oct. 1 to Dec. 1.
  • Extending the pension funding schedule by two years. This is expected to save the state $100 million.
  • Closing the loophole that allows telecommunications companies to not pay local property tax. This will bring in about $13 million to municipalities for the rest of FY09.

The governor has asked the Legislature to consider this legislation quickly.