In his second “State of the Commonwealth” address on January 15, 2009, Governor Deval L. Patrick confronted our current financial challenge:
“I will…file a balanced budget proposal later this month for the coming fiscal year. Given the decline in state revenue, spending must be at levels significantly below what they have been in better times. No one's priorities will be spared. Local services will be cut, and in many cases, police, firefighters and teachers will face layoffs. But as we debate these proposals among ourselves and with the advocates, let us remember that we are doing no more in state government than the people of the Commonwealth are having to do in their own lives -- to make do with less, to trim down wherever we can to get through to a better time…
Some, I know, think that cutting government is always good. But they see only abstractions. Behind every one of those budget line items, I see somebody's best chance or only chance. And I will do my best to make the decisions I have to make with the impact of them clearly in mind.”
The Patrick-Murray Administration distinguishes itself from prior administrations in many ways. Among them is the belief held by the Governor and Lieutenant Governor in the value of state spending to lift up the lives of the Commonwealth’s vulnerable citizens, promote job creation and retention, offer a world class public education system from pre-kindergarten through college, and provide vital financial support for the state’s municipal government partners.
Because of this fundamental belief in the good that is done through the state budget, we in the Governor’s Executive Office for Administration and Finance bear a special responsibility to balance the budget with care and compassion as well as with technical skill and fiscal expertise. This responsibility has been particularly difficult with respect to Fiscal Year 2010 since it comes hard on the heels of significant budget reductions we have already been forced to make mid-year in Fiscal Year 2009. In fact, between Fiscal Years 2009 and 2010, the Governor has been compelled to solve a gap of approximately $6 billion, an unprecedented budget challenge. The task has been magnified by the recognition that in these very hard times, individuals and families in the Commonwealth rely more than ever on the safety net provided through state programs, and complicated by the unprecedented economic uncertainty characterizing this financial downturn.
I am thankful for expert help from the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors in navigating these difficult conditions. In the Governor’s first “State of the Commonwealth” speech, he announced an Executive Order creating this council to advise him on matters relating to the state of the Massachusetts economy, assess local, national and global economic conditions and trends, and evaluate the significance of those conditions and trends for the Commonwealth’s economic strategy. Shortly thereafter, the Council convened under the skilled leadership of Cathy Minehan, former President and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. While the Governor certainly anticipated choppy waters ahead when he created the Council, there was no signal to suggest the magnitude of the downturn we have experienced since that time. As we have sought to understand the factors in this slide into recession, and to gauge how deep it will go and how long it will last, my ANF team and I have been fortunate to have guidance from the Council as a whole and from individual members. Our special thanks go to Dr. Alan Clayton-Matthews of the University of Massachusetts and Dr. James H. Stock of Harvard University, who have spent many hours working with ANF and the Department of Revenue to develop revenue projections and to share their expertise with us, the Joint Committee on Ways and Means and Means and the public. Outside of the Council, Dr. Barry Bluestone of Northeastern University and Dr. Robert Tannenwald of the New England Public Policy Center have also provided invaluable guidance.
While this budget situation presented challenges, it has been a pleasure to confront them with the help of my talented colleagues at the Executive Office of Administration and Finance. I could not be more proud of my entire team, all of whom have contributed to this budget and to all our accomplishments during a remarkably productive year. Special mentions go out to Undersecretary Jay Gonzalez, Assistant Secretary for Budget Matt Gorzkowicz, Assistant Budget Directors LeeAnn Pasquini, Rob Dolan, Katie Luddy, Jennifer Hewitt and the entire budget staff.
Budget choices should always be linked to values and priorities. Upon taking office, Governor Patrick tasked ANF to work with our colleagues across the Executive Branch to develop a performance management system. The resulting project, MassGOALS, is described in this budget document. In future phases, our budget planning and preparation will incorporate additional performance budgeting measures. As she departs ANF, I would like to thank Project Manager Lonsdale Koester for her hard work and personal investment in developing and launching MassGOALS.
In these difficult times I am more keenly aware than ever of the benefits of the partnership and, even more, the friendship of Senator Steven Panagiotakos, Chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee and Representative Robert DeLeo, Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee. On behalf of my team, I extend my thanks to them and to their respective staffs for the work we have done together over a very challenging year. While these legislative leaders will undoubtedly take a different approach to elements of the budget, as always they have been unfailingly generous with their time and guidance.
Finally, I wish to express my team’s appreciation for the guidance and personal involvement of Governor Patrick and Lt. Governor Murray as we developed this budget to address their vision for the Commonwealth and its citizens.
Leslie A. Kirwan