As a result of the global economic downturn, the Patrick-Murray Administration has managed government during one of the worst fiscal crises Massachusetts has ever faced. Fiscal year 2011 will be the third straight fiscal year requiring billions of dollars of budget solutions. The “Great Recession” brought with it a steep decline in tax revenues and, while we expect to turn the corner and see growth in fiscal year 2011, tax revenues will remain at much lower levels than when Governor Patrick filed his first budget three years ago. Meanwhile, demand for state services has increased significantly as more residents have needed help.
Even in these incredibly difficult times, we have maintained fiscal stability and responsibly managed the state’s finances, thanks to the Governor’s leadership. While they have downgraded more than a dozen states during the recession, the credit rating agencies recently affirmed the Commonwealth’s strong AA bond rating, specifically highlighting the Governor’s strong fiscal management during the economic crisis:
Cutting spending has been a necessary component of a balanced set of solutions to the state’s extraordinary fiscal challenges. The Patrick-Murray Administration has acted to reduce state spending across state government. Over 2,000 state jobs have been eliminated, and state employees who remain have been asked to do more while getting paid less. We have cut billions of dollars from programs and services in the fiscal year 2009-2011 budgets. This has resulted in real, and, in some cases, painful impacts on Massachusetts residents.
Budget cuts and sound fiscal management are necessary in these challenging times. But the people of the Commonwealth should expect even more from their leaders. They deserve not just sound fiscal management but also true fiscal leadership. True fiscal leadership is about more than just cutting spending in the midst of a fiscal crisis. True fiscal leadership requires not only an appreciation for the need to live within our means, but also an appreciation for the consequences of the actions required to achieve a balanced budget. It requires not only tough decisions, but also creative solutions. It requires not only telling people what we can no longer do, but also persuading people to share responsibility for helping find ways to preserve the many important things we are doing. It requires decision-making based on careful consideration of not just the impact on our fiscal health and stability, but also based on careful consideration of the impact on the residents who depend on state programs and services for their own health and stability.
True fiscal leadership in these difficult times requires finding ways to deliver a fiscally responsible budget that mitigates the impact on those most in need and that continues to invest in a brighter future for all residents. It requires creative solutions and tough decisions – not just to cut spending – but to reform and improve the way government delivers services.
Governor Patrick has demonstrated true fiscal leadership in the face of extraordinary fiscal challenges. He has had to make many difficult decisions that have required great sacrifice. Funding for state programs and services has been cut while demand for those programs and services has increased.
The Governor has worked tirelessly, however, to mitigate cuts required to preserve fiscal stability and to deliver and maintain responsibly balanced budgets. Thanks to the Governor’s fiscal leadership, Beacon Hill is no longer just talking about reforming state government, it is reforming state government. Transportation reform, pension reform, ethics reform, education reform, consolidations of state agencies and functions, and many other government improvement efforts are resulting in a more efficient, effective and responsive state government. Thanks to the Governor’s fiscal leadership, stakeholders are working together in a spirit of shared sacrifice to offer solutions. And thanks to his leadership, the federal government has provided significant support to states to preserve critical programs and services throughout the fiscal crisis, including funding for education.
Governor Patrick has also demonstrated true fiscal leadership by focusing not just on weathering the current fiscal storm, but also on the brighter future we must build for the Commonwealth. The Governor has worked hard to find ways to continue to invest in providing a world class education for our children, training our workforce for jobs of the 21st century, providing access to affordable health care for all residents, supporting the life sciences, clean energy and other job-creating industries of the future and fixing and improving infrastructure that supports economic development and the quality of life of all of our residents. Thanks to the Governor’s continuous leadership in pursuing this long-term agenda, Massachusetts has weathered the fiscal storm better than most other states and is well-positioned for growth as we begin our economic recovery.
The Governor’s budget recommendation for fiscal year 2011 is a product of the same fiscal leadership the Governor has exercised throughout his Administration. It is a responsible budget. While it contains cuts to programs and services, it is balanced and compassionate and minimizes those cuts to the greatest extent possible through government reforms and efficiencies, creative solutions and thoughtful decision-making. It is a budget that continues to invest in a brighter future, including the highest level of funding in history for education.
On a personal level, it has been a privilege to work with the Governor in the development of this budget recommendation. While I know many appreciate the Governor’s fiscal leadership for all of the reasons above, few actually have the opportunity to observe the hard work that goes into exercising that leadership. The Governor pushes me and the rest of his cabinet to make sure we have considered all possible options to improve the way in which we deliver services and to mitigate the impacts on those who depend on state government. He pores through hundreds of pages of budget reports and recommendations, spends countless hours in meetings with staff and meets with many legislators, stakeholders and constituents to ensure he understands the options available to him and the consequences of the choices he makes.
The Governor approaches the budget process with a keen understanding of not only his fiscal responsibility, but also a keen understanding that the budget is a statement of our values. The Governor understands that the budget is not just a compilation of numbers on a page. He knows there are people behind those numbers, people who depend on the budget for their health and well-being and for a brighter future. The Governor takes the budget process seriously; he invests a great deal of personal time, energy and emotion into the process; and he demands the best of all of us to develop a budget that is not only responsibly balanced, but that serves the best interests of the people of the Commonwealth.
As his budget chief and as a citizen of the Commonwealth, I thank Governor Patrick for his true fiscal leadership. I also want to thank Lieutenant Governor Murray for his leadership. He is also personally engaged in the budget development process and is a valuable partner to the Governor in the decision-making process.
The Patrick-Murray Administration is fortunate to have strong fiscal partners in the legislature. Unlike many other states, the Administration and the legislature have worked collaboratively and responsibly to pass budgets that are balanced, on-time and fiscally responsible in the face of extraordinary fiscal challenges. I thank my colleagues, Chairman Steven Panagiotakos and Chairman Charles Murphy, and their staffs for their partnership in managing the Commonwealth’s budget through these difficult times.
I also want to thank my colleagues on the Governor’s cabinet for all of their hard work and creativity in developing budget recommendations for the Governor under very challenging circumstances; Liz Morningstar, Rebecca Deusser and the rest of the Governor’s staff for their help and support; the members of the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors for their valuable advice and insight; Commissioner Bal and her team at the Department of Revenue for their work in monitoring state tax revenues and in developing and analyzing various budget proposals; and the many legislators, municipal officials, agency heads and stakeholders who took the time to write me or to meet with me or my staff to educate us and to inform our work on the budget.
Lastly, I want to express deep appreciation, thanks and gratitude to my incredible team in the Executive Office of Administration and Finance for their work on this budget recommendation. Although I have had the privilege of working with my colleagues at A&F for three years now, I continue to be amazed by the enthusiasm, energy, creativity, diligence and dedication that they bring to their jobs each and every day. I am proud to be associated with all of them. Special thanks go to Undersecretary Matt Gorzkowicz and Budget Director LeeAnn Pasquini for their leadership.
Secretary of Administration and Finance