Mass. Governor’s Proposal Cuts $250 Million, but Includes Extra $44 Million for Homeless Families

The day after Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick announced some $250 million dollars worth of budget cuts, his administration chief, Jay Gonzalez, was in Springfield, where he detailed the circumstances that led to the cuts — and some good news for the state’s homeless families.

Gonzalez says lower-than-projected state revenues are forcing the proposed cuts — including some 700 executive branch jobs, a one-percent reduction in aid to municipalities, slower growth in pay rates for doctors who treat Medicaid patients, a $200 million drawdown on the state’s rainy day fund – and some $5 million cut from social safety net programs. Gonzalez says a combination of factors are hurting tax collections – and Washington’s inability to resolve the so-called fiscal cliff is a big part of the story.

“The uncertainty about this has slowed down our economic growth,” Gonzalez said. “We need Congress to solve it so that we don’t have those dire consequences, that businesses can start feeling comfortable investing again and growth and job creation in Massachusetts.”

Among the social services to be cut is public transportation for the homeless. But in another area, Gonzalez says – housing for families at risk of homelessness — a boost is on the way.

“We actually yesterday as part of the whole package we filed with the legislature there are a few things that we did provide some additional funding for through some savings we had in other budgetary accounts,” he said. One of them was this emergency shelter services where we filed I think for $44 million of additional funding for homelessness”

Just a few weeks ago the state submitted new rules that aimed to make it easier for at-risk and homeless families to find emergency housing – and advocates say they are relieved that the administration is following up with the needed financial commitment.