Republican gubernatorial hopeful Charles D. Baker today criticized Governor Deval Patrick for counting on $608 million in federal funding in building a state budget for the next fiscal year, money that now is at risk of not materializing.
State lawmakers are awaiting word from Congress about whether the money, which Patrick, the House, and Senate all baked into their spending plans for next year, is still coming. The money is part of an expected six-month extension to the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage program.
If Congress declines to extend the program, the Legislature will have less than a month to fill the gap, and lawmakers have warned of major spending cuts if that happens. Baker said the governor is most at fault for not providing a backup plan.
In January, “the message coming from the governor’s office and the House and the Senate was, ‘We’ll build a contingency plan by June 1 if it looks like we’re not going to get the money,' ” Baker said, adding that it's now June 3.
He said budget writers may now have to scramble to balance the budget.
“Everything is going to have to be revisited in a very short period of time,” he said. “You’re going to have to make that decision in the span of a couple of weeks, instead of being able to do it over the course of a couple of months.”
Baker also addressed a Globe story today on Patrick’s finance committee cochairman, Sean Q. Curran, who is also a special-interest State House lobbyist.
Patrick “ran saying he was going to change the culture on Beacon Hill and take the state in a different direction,” Baker said. “That looks a lot like the Beacon Hill people from Massachusetts are sick of.”
Patrick's campaign says it has never tried to hide Curran's role in fund-raising, and trumpeted the governor's role in tightening ethics and lobbying rules last year.
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