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Steep cuts in Patrick's budget plan

Posted January 27, 2011 10:21 AM

Two state prisons would close. Nine hundred jobs would be eliminated across state government. Space to treat 160 mentally ill patients would disappear.

Everybody would be hit, at least a little. A bottle of Gatorade would cost a nickel more, and drivers would pay an additional $2.50 on their annual car insurance bills.

Governor Deval Patrick proposed dozens of deep cuts, a few new fees, and some one-time fixes yesterday, as part of what he called a painful but ambitious plan to close a projected $1.2 billion budget gap and help to reinvent Massachusetts government.

The governor said his $30.5 billion blueprint for the budget year that begins in July would cut overall spending by 1.8 percent, or $570 million, the largest year-to-year cut in the state budget in 20 years.

“It reflects many difficult and, in some cases, painful choices,’’ he said. “But we are making those choices to support our priorities — job creation, health care cost control, better schools, and reduced youth violence — priorities I know will make a stronger Commonwealth for all of us.’’

In laying out the first spending plan of his second term, the governor argued that he was doing more than just making cuts to balance the books. His proposal calls for a series of tradeoffs, reinventions, and redistributions, to steer money toward programs that reflect his priorities and find new ways to handle criminals and finance health care.

In perhaps his most ambitious goal, the governor said he could save $1 billion by changing how the state pays for health care for the poor, proposing that contracts with providers be changed to encourage them to work together to drive down costs. Independent analysts said the initiative was laudable but would at most save half that amount.

Read the rest of Michael Levenson's story here.

See winners and losers in Gov. Patric's Budget proposal.

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