The next recession could make the state budget deficit explode

Boston, MA - 2/21/2017   - Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker speaks during a news conference to announce the state's criminal justice system's review findings at the Massachusetts State House in Boston, MA, February 21, 2017.  (Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)
Charlie Baker. –Keith Bedford/Globe Staff

Massachusetts has a serious budget problem. Year after year, the state struggles to cover the cost of public services — roads and schools, health care and child protection, law enforcement and the courts.

It’s happening right now, with Governor Charlie Baker racing to fill a hole in the current budget with just a few months left in the fiscal year. And while the troubles are partly about lower-than-expected tax revenue in recent months, the real problem goes a lot deeper than that.

Deficits are supposed to come and go. When times are tough, it’s perfectly fine to end up a bit in the red, raiding emergency savings to cover essential costs. But when the economy rebounds, coffers should be flush, so you can replenish your savings and prepare for the next economic storm.

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