Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Patrick says he will restore budget cuts

By Andrea Estes, Globe Staff

Governor-elect Deval Patrick announced today he will restore $383 million in budget cuts made by Governor Mitt Romney, saying that the state can afford the spending and that the cuts would hurt education, social services, and other needed programs.

"Overwhelmingly, these broad-based cuts, especially coming mid-year, have a serious negative impact on thousands of Massachusetts residents who have planned for the relief and relied upon the services these programs provide," Patrick said in a statement.

The money that Patrick plans to restore after taking office next month includes funding for preschool and kindergarten programs, domestic violence hotlines, and elder outreach.

Patrick said that slightly higher-than-expected state revenues in November and December paved the way for his decision. His administration will look for savings in the second half of the state's fiscal year.

Romney originally slashed $425 million on Nov. 10, saying that the cuts were needed to avert a spending crisis caused by the Legislature dipping too deeply into reserve funds.

He restored $41 million of that total on Dec. 1, after November tax collection figures came in. Also, the state's psychiatric hospital executives and mental health advocates had warned that the cuts would have required the hospitals to stop admitting new patients and the state Department of Mental Health to eliminate about 170 staff positions

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