Baker orders $50M in state budget cuts to help close deficit
BOSTON >> Gov. Charlie Baker has ordered nearly $50 million in spending cuts as part of a plan to erase a state budget shortfall.
In a letter late Friday to state lawmakers, the Republican said his administration is projecting a $320 million deficit in the budget for the fiscal year that ends July 1. The projected shortfall is based on current revenue forecasts.
Baker said officials also have identified $55 million in additional non-tax revenues, mostly federal reimbursements.
The governor told lawmakers the administration expects to make an upward revision in estimated tax collections for the remainder of the year, which — if proven accurate — would eliminate the need for further cuts.
The cuts outlined Friday include $10 million in Medicaid fee-for-service payments and more than $15.3 million in funds that appear tied to last year's early retirement program for state employees.
The emergency cuts, which trim spending from 63 individual line items in the state budget, can be made without the approval of state lawmakers.
By law, Massachusetts governors are empowered to make mid-year budget cuts if anticipated revenues won't be enough to cover expenditures.
Such cuts are limited to executive branch agencies. Other areas — like state education spending and state aid to local cities and towns — are off limits.
State Secretary of Administration and Finance Kristen Lepore, Baker's budget chief, said Friday's cuts are needed to ensure the state stays on target for a balanced budget in the current fiscal year.
"Today's corrections do not raise taxes or fees and will not affect the state's ability to deliver core services," Lepore said in a statement.
Massachusetts Democratic Party spokesman Pat Beaudry criticized Baker for the timing of the announcement.
"By slashing $50 million and hiding behind a Friday news dump, Gov. Baker is proving that he lacks vision for the future," Beaudry said in a release.
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