Faced with revenues coming in $540 million lower than expected, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick yesterday announced a series of budget cuts that include a $9 million (1%) cut to local aid, which will require legislative approval, and an $11.5 million cut in the so-called SPED circuit breaker, which reimburses districts with high-needs special education students. The state will also withdraw $200 million from its rainy day fund.
The cuts include a $210,000 cut to the administration of the Department of Early Education and Care and a $67,617 cut to the Universal Pre-Kindergarten grant program, which supports quality. The governor cut the operations budget for the Children’s Trust Fund by $58,629 and cut the Children’s Trust Fund by $25,000.
In addition, the governor announced a $75,000 cut to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and a $25,000 cut to its literacy programs. A $7.4 million cut in funding for mental health programs will affect some services for children.
“Patrick said the midyear budget gap is a direct result of the economic uncertainty caused by failed fiscal cliff negotiations, which could trigger federal spending cuts and tax increases at the start of the new year,” the Boston Globe reported.
“The state still expects to collect more in tax revenues this budget year than it did in the previous budget year. But a year ago, budget writers, in consultation with economists, pinned their revenue estimates on a more robust economy. They expected an economic growth rate of 3 percent, resulting in nearly $900 million more in tax collections than last year, for a total of $22 billion in tax collections. They are instead seeing a 1.9 percent economic growth rate, and now expect about $381 million more in tax collections than last year.”
For more information, see a breakdown of the mid-year cuts compiled by the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center.