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Patrick To Cut Up To 2,000 Jobs, Protect Local Aid

This article is more than 10 years old.

Gov. Deval Patrick said he plans to cut as many as 2,000 jobs and slash state services to close a $600 million budget gap this fiscal year.

Patrick outlined the broad cuts to a business group in Worcester on Thursday, saying he will cut spending by $352 million.

Gov. Deval Patrick outlines his plan to close the state's $600 million budget gap Thursday in Worcester. (AP)
Gov. Deval Patrick outlines his plan to close the state's $600 million budget gap Thursday in Worcester. (AP)

The governor said he would start by cutting $277 million from the executive branch. "That will affect the level and quality of many of the services that you expect from your government," he said.

Patrick would also ask lawmakers for permission to cut $75 million from budgets he does not control, including those for the legislative and judicial branches.

"We must share this sacrifice," he said. "And the rest of our state government must pitch in and reduce spending by a little under 5 percent."

Senate Ways and Means Chairman Steven Panagiotakos is among the lawmakers reluctantly supporting the cuts. "I applaud the governor for making the cuts and the other proposals to close this budget gap," he said. "I'm just hoping this is all it's going to be this fiscal year, because if it's not I don't know where we're going to cut this fiscal year."

Michael Widmer of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation said the governor is still depending too heavily on one-time sources to plug budget holes.

"He's using some more of the state's rainy day reserves and federal stimulus dollars and we have run through those moneys very quickly," Widmer said. "This just delays the day of reckoning and means more pain later."

Patrick will also make non-union workers take off nine more unpaid days and file a bill to eliminate Evacuation Day and Bunker Hill Day as paid holidays for state workers in Suffolk County, calling them "traditions whose time has passed."

Previous attempts in the Legislature to eliminate the holidays have failed.

The governor said the cuts will allow the state to hold harmless spending on local aid to cities and towns and spending on education aid in the state.

That came as a surprise to Michael Widmer.

"The cities and towns may escape the cutting this time, but I think the result of using more of the one-time money is that there will be deeper cuts in 2011," Widmer said. "So this may be a reprieve, but I don't think it's a total escape."

Patrick also said his plan limits the cuts to public safety agencies, though he did say he will seek to do away with the Quinn Bill, which gives law enforcement officers extra pay for higher-education degrees.

WBUR's Steve Brown contributed to this report from the State House.

This program aired on October 29, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

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