You can add Massachusetts to the list of states planning massive spending cuts in a Spartan new budget.
Governor Deval Patrick unveiled a fiscal 2012 budget that will cut $570 million, or 1.8 percent, from last year's budget – the largest such cut in 20 years -- and particularly hammer social services, health care and aid to municipalities.
Among other measures, the state will slash as many as 900 jobs (on top of the nearly 6,000 already removed since the end of 2008); reduce benefits for those enrolled in the state’s Medicaid program, MassHealth; shut down two prisons; cut state aid by $65 million; eliminate employment services for those on transitional assistance; and slash $23 million for expenditures on emergency homeless shelters.
The budget also plans to cut $45-million from spending on counseling homeless and indigent people; slash $16.4-million for Mental Health Department hospitals; and $6.2-million from State Police.
Patrick said the budget included difficult and, in some cases, painful choices.
On the positive side, the budget calls for a reduction in the corporate tax rate to 8.25 percent from 8.75 percent; and to maintain record amount of funding for education ($3.9-billion). In addition, the new budget doesn’t foresee any tax hikes.
“This budget makes investments in critical areas that will help strengthen our economy in the near-term, position us for a strong recovery in the long-term, and continue to improve the way government does business,” Patrick added.