Critics point blame for Massachusetts budget cuts

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(The Center Square) – Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey announced $375 million in budget cuts to mend a $1 billion shortfall for the 2024 fiscal year, with critics pointing fingers at tax cuts and the migrant crisis.

Last fall, the first-term Democrat announced $1 billion in tax relief, drawing criticism from progressives, who now blame the cuts on the budget shortfall. Meanwhile, Republicans point the blame on spending, specifically costs related to shelter and services for migrants.

MassHealth will have the bulk of the cuts, with $294 million slashed. The most significant hits will be for behavioral health programs, housing and counseling services, grants for fire departments and various economic development projects.

Critics of the governor point blame at supplemental spending to aid programs for migrants, including $250 million for emergency shelters. As the crisis continues, Healey is expected to seek additional funding.

“As the state is faced with nearly $400 million in budget cuts, lawmakers are being forced to continue to pass supplemental spending plans to fund services and welfare programs for the thousands of immigrants that continue to make their way all the way up to Massachusetts from the southern border,” said Paul Craney, spokesman for the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance.

The Massachusetts Teachers Association President Max Page and Vice President Deb McCarthy say the tax benefited the very rich. They say the tax cuts have consequences, ultimately hurting the working class.

“When there was discussion of providing tax cuts to the very rich, we warned that cuts have consequences,” Page and McCarthy said in a statement. “These tax cuts gave millions of dollars to the richest members of our society. Today, we are seeing the fall out: cuts in funding – similar in size to the tax cuts given to the very wealthy – for education, transportation, child care and housing, which will impact regular, working people.”

Meanwhile, the governor’s secretary of Administration and Finance, Matthew Gorzkowicz, defended the tax and budget cuts. He said the state could manage both.

“Those tax cuts are important in terms of providing relief to many residents in Massachusetts,” said Gorzkowicz.

He was also quick to dismiss blame for the budget shortfalls on funding emergency shelters for migrants, saying they result from “underperforming revenues.”

“The pressures on the emergency shelter system are not at all impacted by the underperforming revenues,” said Gorzkowicz. “The action we are taking today to balance the budget is the result of underperforming revenues. We have identified resources available to deal with the emergency shelter system.”

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