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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Heavy weather ahead

You know things are going to be bad when Deval Patrick feels the need to telegraph what is coming.

That's $1 billion budget shortfall anticipated by Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation President Michael Widmer is now up to $1.5 billion. For now. That means the cuts set to be announced by Patrick tomorrow will be very painful.

Keep in mind Patrick is only working with a percentage of the budget that he controls. And there are several programs that -- for now at least -- are exempt, including health care, local aid and aid to local schools. And we are 3 1/2 months into the fiscal year, meaning a quarter of the money has probably been spent, leaving a smaller pool of cash to cut.

That translates into layoffs, lots of them, in agencies that provide services. But we're talking human services rather than transportation or public safety.

And does anyone really think we are going to see the slide in revenue stop based on how the national economy is faring?

Ironically, this exercise could amount to a major blow against Question 1, the income tax repeal. The cuts being envisioned are merely the tip of the iceberg of what would lie ahead if the ballot question passes.

Batten down the hatches.

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