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Oh … here’s how he did it

July 11, 2011

For all those who were wondering the answer to my previous question from this blog post “how [can] the state […] afford all of this additional local aid without tax hikes[?] The state all of a sudden, for the first time in years, magically has enough money to provide prison mitigation money?”, the State House News Service has done a splendid job explaining just how Governor Deval Patrick did it in this article.

For one thing, Governor Patrick has done the sneaky thing and put off paying into the pension system until future years. From the article:

The bill depends upon two major strategies to help state government balance its budget, which last year was supported by $1.5 billion in federal funds that are not available this year. It calls for the Patrick administration to whack $750 million off projected spending in the massive Medicaid health insurance program and dodges a huge scheduled spike in public employee pension system costs by pushing those obligations into future years.

Meanwhile, the Pioneer Institute offers a pessimistic view of these assumed savings here, here, and here.

From the Pioneer Institute’s budget review: “OK, so we ’solved’ the state’s structural budget deficit of $2 billion by coming up with a mirage of $900 million in Medicaid savings and by pushing off the equivalent of $1 billion in current pension commitments to future generations.”

Very nice. I knew this budget with prison mitigation money was too good to be true. Leave it to the next governor to pay – very short-sighted and incredibly spineless given that the governor clearly does not have the courage to ask to raise taxes! Good thing that the next governor will probably be Charlie Baker in 2014 who actually knows how to balance a budget responsibly…

If these savings fail to come, I wonder if the governor will be forced to make an emergency spending cut this year and cut the prison mitigation money. I think I would actually be okay with that, since this town spends the money it already has recklessly and irresponsibly. Once a spendthrift, always a spendthrift.

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