GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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July 13, 2013

Governor signoff has local aid cuts

Gov. Deval Patrick Friday signed a new $33.6 billion state budget for the 2014 fiscal year, but in doing so, the governor also slashed $240 million in transportation funding and $177 million in unrestricted local aid that already has local officials scrambling.

“Usually, we’ll get updated local aid numbers,” Gloucester Mayor Carolyn Kirk said Friday, “but I didn’t get any notice on this at all.”

Kirk said the impact of a local aid cut on Gloucester’s overall $90 million budget won’t be known until the state firms up a formula for the change – notably whether aid to all cities and towns will face an equal cut across the board, or whether any aid cuts would target some communities eligible for some programs but perhaps not others.

Kirk was also out front Friday calling for the Legislature to override the governor’s vetoes of the transportation and local aid spending in the weeks ahead.

If the state aid funding change becomes reality, however, the mayor said it will be a direct hit on city residents.

“No matter what,” she said, “the cut is going to throw our budget off balance, and the citizens of Gloucester are going to have to pick up the tab in terms of any difference — either through cuts in services, or through finding some other revenue source. We are going to have to monitor very, very closely to see what impact we may be facing.”

The governor’s vetoes are directly connected to an ongoing disagreement between the governor and the Legislature over the adequacy of a $500 million tax-raising bill intended to finance investments in the transportation system and throughout the budget for fiscal 2014, which began on July 1.

“Without the revenues from the transportation financing bill, this budget is out of balance,” Patrick said at a State House press conference, explaining his vetoes while also touting the potential for the funds to be restored through a future budget bill.

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