Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Republican Leaders Call on Governor to Detail His 9C Plans

House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. and Senate Minority Leader Richard R. Tisei sent the following release to the press today.

With just one day remaining before the Legislature is scheduled to vote on granting expanded 9C powers to Governor Patrick, Senate Minority Leader Richard R. Tisei and House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. are calling on the Governor to explain how he will use these additional powers to address the state budget deficit.

"If in fact it is your judgment that the severity of the deficit facing the Commonwealth requires not only additional cuts throughout the executive branch, but also cuts in other areas of state funding, including local aid, we require more information of your exact plan for action before we can reasonably consider your request," Tisei and Jones wrote to the Governor in a joint letter dated January 12.

Calling Patrick's appeal for expanded budget-cutting authority an "extraordinary request," Tisei and Jones noted that the Governor could still pursue "alternative mechanisms for maintaining a balanced budget," including "filing supplemental appropriations bills to reduce spending in accounts not under your current 9C authority to reduce."

"Given the options, the full details of your plan should be shared with the membership and the public prior to our consideration of your bill to expand 9C authority," Tisei and Jones wrote.

With local aid potentially on the chopping block, Tisei said it is not unreasonable to expect Governor Patrick to provide a detailed explanation of how he would use his expanded 9C powers to close an estimated $1 billion budget gap, especially if cities and towns are going to be impacted.

"If the Governor is asking for emergency power, he should have a plan for what he's going to do with that power," said Tisei. "Mitt Romney was in office for only two weeks when he asked for expanded 9C powers, and he outlined exactly what he would do. Governor Patrick has been in office for two years and first asked for 9C powers six months ago, and he still doesn't have a plan on the table for what he would do."

"I'd be very surprised if members of the Legislature are willing to give the Governor a blank check when it comes to issuing cuts in local aid," Jones said. "The Governor should spell out exactly how much money he plans to cut, what accounts he will be targeting, and what mechanism he plans to use when making his 9C cuts. Until he can give us those answers, the Legislature should not be so quick to cede unilateral budget-cutting authority to the Governor."