Thursday, October 29, 2009

Minority Leader's Statement on Governor's Budget Plan

House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. issued the following statement shortly after Governor Patrick announced his plan to address the budget crisis.

I am dismayed that Governor Patrick still does not seem to grasp the magnitude of the budget crisis we face here in the Commonwealth. The solutions he offered today are a temporary fix to a growing crisis. Just like last year, Governor Patrick is applying a band aid to what is a very deep wound.

Governor Patrick’s approach to the budget shortfall underscores his lack of experience in dealing with local government. Though the Governor claims, “We will not cut local aid,” it is readily apparent to anyone who has or does serve as a local official that aid to cities and towns was indeed cut today in a number of ways. However, in his attempt to provide assistance to communities, Governor Patrick filed legislation that would make Big Brother look pretty good to the average citizen. He claims his plan to install red light cameras at stop lights will allow cities and towns to offset any revenue shortfall they may have, but the public will see this as what is a false trade-off.

While I am flattered the Governor has chosen to implement a number of proposals my Republican colleagues and I have offered, I am disappointed that it took this long for him to recognize the full potential of our cost savings initiatives. It was only a year ago Senator Richard Tisei and myself offered a tax amnesty program that Governor Patrick’s Department of Revenue opposed for two years. The tax amnesty program ultimately generated more than $30 million in revenue for the Commonwealth and now the Governor is proposing to do it only months after the last one concluded.

The Governor has been consistently behind in addressing this situation. . Even today, Governor Patrick claimed Massachusetts’ economy was on the road to recovery, yet media outlets reported today that the Bay State’s economy shrunk for the third consecutive quarter.

We hope Governor Patrick will embrace more of our ideas -he should willingly do so now before circumstances force him to do so again.

Here are three ideas for Governor Patrick:

1. Shift all MassHealth members to managed care plans, rather than the MassHealth fee-for-service program and primary care clinician plan.
Cost Savings=$200 million annually

2. Encourage medical facilities to return unused, unexpired medication, which will lead to a decrease in overall health care costs in the Commonwealth.
Cost Savings=$20 million

3. Change the Pacheco law threshold from $200,000 to $5 million.
Cost Savings=$40 million