State revenue shortfall now $439 million

  • Baker

State House News Service
Published: 6/8/2017 10:54:17 PM

With just over three weeks remaining in the fiscal year, Senate President Stan Rosenberg said Thursday he expects to hear details soon about the Baker administration’s steps to address what now stands at a $439 million revenue shortfall.

State revenue officials last month predicted tax collections for fiscal 2017 would fall between $375 million and $575 million below projections, and Gov. Charlie Baker has repeatedly declined to disclose specific actions that he says his administration has been taking to manage state spending.

“His job is to manage the budget, and I am confident that he will share his plans as soon as he has them available,” Rosenberg said in a Boston Herald Radio interview Thursday. “So that’s his job, and we’ll work with him, but I’m hoping and looking forward to getting some more information soon.”

On Thursday, Baker said funding allocated in the annual state budget is regularly left unspent at the end of the fiscal year - a practice that can lead to what are known as reversions - and told reporters that information about unspent funds would be available through the state’s annual financial statement.

“The year doesn’t end until the year ends, and we won’t know the actual revenue picture until the year ends. And we’ve been planning for this accordingly for the better part of the past three or four months. And it’s no secret that every year for a whole variety of reasons, hundreds of millions of dollars don’t get spent. That’s been true since I worked in state government in the 1990s,” the former Weld and Cellucci administration cabinet secretary told reporters after speaking at a prostate cancer awareness event. “When you have a budget that’s worth tens of billions of dollars, things happen over the course of the year, and as a result of that dollars either get unallocated or unspent.”

As questions swirl over what authorized initiatives Baker may not be advancing, Baker said the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) would “lay out exactly what we spent on everything we spent it on,” claiming there is “nothing different about the way we’re handling it this year than it’s been handled every year before.”

Rosenberg said Baker, legislative leaders and budget writers discuss revenues during their private Monday afternoon meetings.

“We ask the governor, ‘Are you preparing plans?’ He says, ‘Yes, we have a bunch of options, and we’re working on sorting those options through,’” Rosenberg said. “I would expect over the next meeting or two that we’re going to start hearing much more details, because we’re still waiting on the June revenue figures, and we are behind, but we’re only behind at this point, say, I’m going to guess it’s about one, one-and-a-half percent.”

Rosenberg’s comments come after House Speaker Robert DeLeo told reporters he did not know what measures the administration was pursuing to control spending.

“The only thing I do know is that the governor stated, relative to this fiscal year anyways, that he felt he would be able to handle the issue without the necessity of us coming back as a House and a Senate and making further cuts, but beyond that I honestly don’t know,” DeLeo said Wednesday.


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