Are Romney Budget Cuts Politcal Payback...?
Three months into the States Fiscal year why the cuts now? With projected revenues coming in at or above expected levels why now? Even if Governor Patrick quickly overturns these budget cuts next year a lot of people and organizations who had written this money into their budgets are going to be in big trouble..(see below article) Boys and Girls Clubs, health Care Workers etc. Thanks Mitt it’s a hell of a way to say goodbye.
Romney's cuts set off howls of protest
By Edward Mason , Staff writer
Daily News of Newburyport
Gov. Mitt Romney's $425 million in emergency spending cuts will cut some $630,000 from youth organizations, food pantries, museums and chambers of commerce in Greater Newburyport.
Romney slashed a broad swath of state spending, in order to balance the state budget. The governor said the cuts could be absorbed by the agencies that administer the affected programs, but local officials predicted people would feel real pain and in some cases wreak havoc.
Locally, the Newburyport YWCA would suffer one of the largest cuts, $100,000.
"We have been expecting a $100,000 allocation earmarked for our programming, said Sally Carlson, the chairwoman of the Newburyport YWCA's steering committee. "If that were to be cut, it has the potential to seriously impact the programming we offer as well as our staffing."
Carlson said Romney's cuts are being met with confusion.
"Some of these checks were ready to be cut, and the last time I checked the state had a surplus," Carlson said. "People don't really understand what is motivating this."
The Pettengill House, a Salisbury social services organization, is another local institution that might see its state aid pulled. It gets $75,000 from the state to support school-related programming.
"We work closely with local schools to ensure that children and their families are getting the services we need," said Pettingill's executive director Deb Smith. "A lot of people depend on us for that. We can't lose that funding. I can't even imagine what would happen if we lost it."
Cuts in Salisbury include the town's Chamber of Commerce, the proposed boardwalk there and the at-risk youth programs, among others. Salisbury Town Manager Neil Harrington said he questions the authority Romney has to freeze the money after it's been appropriated through the Legislature.
"I wouldn't presume to say it was taken away at this point," he said. "The governor has played a card that for whatever reason he wants to use at this point. Whether or not he will prevail in the end is not clear at this point."
Harrington said that Romney already vetoed the spending and that veto was overruled by the Legislature. He would not say if he is optimistic about getting the money, adding that "it is really a question ... of what will happen when the new governor takes over."
"We could use the money, as several cities and town could," he Harrington said. "These are needed programs and the money was appropriated through the legislative process. And I am hopeful that in the end we will receive the funds."
Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley, which serves Greater Newburyport, estimated Romney's cuts reduced elder services spending statewide by $13.7 million. Anne Proli, associate executive director of Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley, said the governor's cuts would keep her agency from hiring more people to investigate claims of senior abuse. It also would reduce the amount of money available to local councils on aging, which provide opportunities for seniors to socialize.
It also cut money for seniors who want to be cared for at home rather than at nursing homes - even though the Romney administration passed a law this year allowing seniors to use Medicaid money to pay for home care so they wouldn't have to go into nursing homes.
"He's being wise and people foolish," Proli said.
The governor also cut more than $1.4 million for Salem State College, including $800,000 for the school's nursing program. Sen. Frederick E. Berry, D-Peabody, said only Romney's frequent trips out of state can explain why he cut money badly needed to train nurses.
"How can you live in this state and not realize there's a nursing shortage," Berry said.
The governor said the budget cuts were necessary to balance the budget. The Legislature balanced the fiscal 2007 $25.7 billion budget by borrowing $450 million from the stabilization, or rainy day, fund. Romney vetoed that transfer in October, and acted because the absence of that or other money would put spending out of line with revenues.
Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, said Romney was jumping the gun by ordering these emergency budget cuts just four months into fiscal year.
"There was no reason to rush into action here," Widmer said. "This is a vastly different situation than when we were in fiscal free fall. The picture in this case exact opposite."
Area lawmakers said Romney, who is considering a run for the White House, acted to burnish his reputation as a fiscal conservative.
"I think it must play into the bigger political picture for the governor," said Sen. Steven A. Baddour, D-Methuen, whose district includes Newburyport, Amesbury, Merrimac and Salisbury. "But from a Massachusetts perspective, it doesn't make any sense."
However, Romney spokesman Felix Browne said the governor was erring on the side of caution because there was no guarantee state revenues would improve sufficiently to cover the money borrowed from the rainy day fund.
Lawmakers said it is unlikely they could restore the funding while Romney is in office. They are looking for Gov.-elect Deval Patrick to reverse Romney's cuts once he is inaugurated.
However, legislators and North of Boston service providers are encouraged to not rely on Patrick to undo what Romney has done.
"Gov.-elect Patrick will review the budget he inherits and the cuts Gov. Romney has proposed - and will balance the budget," said communications director Richard Chacon, in an e-mailed statement. "He does not believe that significant depletion of the rainy day fund is fiscally responsible and will review cuts, where necessary and prudent, to balance the budget."
Staff writers Angeljean Chiaramida and Stephen Tait contributed to this report.