The state can save millions by putting lawyers for the poor on the state payroll, instead of contracting for their services thanks to a relatively strong economic recovery and our prudent fiscal management during the recession, Massachusetts is in a much better financial position than most other states. Even so, we will be facing our most challenging budget in the upcoming fiscal year. While tax revenues are expected to grow as the economy continues to recover, the unprecedented drop in tax revenues during the recession created a hole that will take us years to climb out of. The expected tax revenue growth will also make up for only half of the federal stimulus funds that will no longer be available next fiscal year. As a result, the state budget next year will need to be $570 million less than this year's budget, the largest cut in year to year spending in 20 years.
In the face of this new fiscal reality, Gov. Deval Patrick's fiscal year 2012 budget proposal builds on the many reforms enacted during his first term with many new proposals to make government more effective and efficient. These proposals are necessary to preserve critical investments in our future, including historic levels of funding for our schools and for efforts to close the achievement gap among our students; investments in job creation and economic growth; and investments in programs that address youth and urban violence. These reform initiatives are also necessary to mitigate the extent to which we need to eliminate or reduce critical programs and services. We cannot avoid deep cuts that will have real impacts on people across the Commonwealth. We can and we must, however, take steps to change the way government does business to preserve as many critical programs and services as possible.
Commonwealth Magazine Op-Ed by Secretary Gonzalez
"More Efficient Legal Services for the Poor"