State government waiting for the ax to fall

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Could Friday be the day Administration and Finance Secretary Kristen Lepore brings her scalpel, or will it be a machete, to work to carve up the fiscal 2016 budget?

Emergency mid-year budget cuts seem inevitable at this point given the signals coming from the administration, despite December revenues putting the state $114 million ahead of benchmarks after six months of the fiscal year.

Spending pressures and underperforming non-tax revenues are responsible for much of the uncertainty in the budget, and the biggest question now is how deeply Gov. Charlie Baker wants to cut through his executive 9C authority, and whether he has other creative solutions up his sleeve to mitigate the pain and still ensure the budget stays in balance.

Either way, the governor is going to want to get through this round of corrections ahead of his State of the Commonwealth address on Jan. 21 and the filing of his fiscal 2017 budget proposal a week later, which ironically is likely to be accompanied by a separate bill calling for more spending in deficient accounts.

Decisions on budget cuts are never easy, and the toughest news is often released on Fridays. Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito have a Cabinet meeting at 10 a.m. where the budget will undoubtedly be a topic of conversation.

Other action on Beacon Hill Friday includes a press conference to be held by the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition calling on the Obama administration to halt immigration raids that activists say are targeting Central American women and children who fled violence in their home countries.

Republican Rep. Jim Lyons and his wife Bernadette will also being playing host to Heidi Cruz, the wife of Texas senator and GOP president candidate Ted Cruz, for a luncheon at their Andover home.

Read the full Friday schedule here.

— Written by Matt Murphy

Copyright State House News Service