The Hiller Instinct: Budget Cuts
The lieutenant governor and the administration's top money-man detailed the plan Romney outlined last night. Among the $343 million in immediate cuts: $114 million in local aid; $10 million from a prescription drug plan for seniors and $2 million from early literacy grants.
Eric A. Kriss, Secretary of Admin. and Finance
"I will not tell you that today's actions have no impact, that no one will be inconvenienced, that no one will be forced to sacrifice. But seen in a wider context, these emergency actions do not cut into the bone and muscle of government."
Romney will also ask the legislature to approve $143 million in cuts including $39 million from Medicaid, $12 million from job training and $8 million from affordable housing. Healey described a package aimed at helping cities and towns handle the cuts. Itís making local government employees pay more for their health insurance and permits some non-union construction projects.
Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey (R)-MA
"We are hoping that reductions are not so severe that they compromise the ability of firefighters, police officers and teachers to do their job."
But if the Romney administration was selling virtually pain-free budget cuts, not everyone was buying.
Geoffrey Beckwith, Exec. Dir. Ma Municipal Assn.
"These cuts will cause real fiscal pain and a reduction in services. It's a very grim time for local government as well as state government."
You don't need a crystal ball to see the future on Beacon Hill. First there will be an argument about whether Romney has cut into the bone of government and broken his campaign promise not to. Then, this spring, a debate about new taxes. That will put state government itself on the line: how big it should be, what services it should provide, who should pay for it and how much? You don't want to miss that.