Saturday, 2:15 PM
Governor: Stimulus not a 'panacea' for fiscal ills
By John Drake, Globe Staff
Governor Deval Patrick tried to temper expectations today as he announced that Massachusetts would receive $6 billion to $9 billion over the next two years in federal stimulus money.
Governor Deval Patrick
Patrick cut off applause during his speech this morning to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce when he announced the figures, saying that the state still faced "difficult choices."
"This stimulus package will not be a panacea," Patrick told the audience at the Intercontinental Hotel in downtown Boston.
The federal aid package signed into law on Tuesday by President Obama will, however, help plug 20 percent of the $6.5 billion gap in the state's operating budget for two fiscal years, Patrick said. Massachusetts will also receive $1 billion for infrastructure, including $400 million for highways and $300 million for transportation. The stimulus package will also include funds for university research and $800 million for education.
The governor, however, warned people "not to get too excited," because much of the money was earmarked for specific programs.
Patrick mentioned that he plans to release his transportation reform proposal on Friday. In response, an audience member asked the governor whether he favored a toll hike or an increase in the gas tax.
Patrick turned the question back on the audience and asked for a show of hands. Nearly the entire room voted for a hike in the gas tax. Fewer than five people raised their hands in support of a toll increase.