Maura Healey Shrugs Off Mid-Year Spending Cuts For Massachusetts State Government

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By Colin A. Young
State House News Service

With tax collections lagging hundreds of millions of dollars behind projections, Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey said Wednesday she is not considering unilateral budget cuts to better align state revenues and spending.

“No. No, we’re going to manage the situation,” Healey replied when State House News Service asked if she is weighing unilateral midyear spending reductions known as 9C cuts. “Revenues are not what they have been the last few years. We recognize that. We’ve seen a dip.”

“It’s also the case that we are fiscally very strong here in Massachusetts,” the governor continued. “We have a terrific bond rating. We have a record amount in the stabilization fund. And we’re going to just have to plan and evaluate as we prepare our next budget. That’s what we’re going to do, we’re going to manage the situation.”

Through the first five months of fiscal year 2024 (which began July 1, 2023), state tax collectors have hauled in about $146 million or 1 percent more than they did during the same span last year, but $627 million or 4.3 percent less than the estimates used to craft the record $56 billion annual budget.

While spending trends are not clear nearly midway through the budget year, tax collections have fallen short of projections five months in a row.

Healey’s team could downgrade the consensus revenue forecast for fiscal year to reflect the sluggish performance so far, and the governor suggested Wednesday that call will be up to her budget chief, the Administration and Finance secretary, Matthew Gorzkowicz.

“I’ll leave that to Secretary Gorzkowicz to work through with Ways and Means leadership,” she said about revising the consensus revenue estimate.

Then-Governor Charlie Baker oversaw the last round of 9C cuts in December 2016.

Lawmakers worked with Healey and with Baker to drive up state spending significantly in recent years, prompting business leaders recently to recommend that the state pump the brakes.

After overseeing much of that new spending, Senate budget chief Michael Rodrigues (D-Westport) this month said the state is “at a precarious crossroads.”

“There are storm clouds gathering on the horizon,” Rodrigues said at a hearing about state financial estimates for fiscal year 2025.

The state has also stashed away more than ever before. State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg said this month the fund has reached a “historic high of $8.2 billion,” calling it “a strong financial foundation for when it rains again.”

Healey, who must file her fiscal year 2025 budget proposal by January 24, 2024, on Wednesday, December 13 voiced optimism about the state’s outlook despite poor revenue performance in recent months.

“These things are cyclical. We’re dealing with inflation and some real challenges out there right now, but I’m confident that we can weather this and weather it well here in Massachusetts,” she said, plugging the economic development plan she filed Tuesday, December 12.


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