Week Ending October 8, 2010
After a week of discussions between leadership and the Republican caucus in the Senate, the Senate passed a $420 million supplemental budget during a Friday session. Republicans in the Senate had been holding up action on the bill all week, questioning why the state needs to spend this money at this time. The Senate passed spending bill included two Republican amendments which will require Governor Patrick’s administration to disclose additional budget details about state spending needs. Minority Leader Richard Tisei (R-Wakefield) and Assistant Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) had previously objected to the lack of detail about the state’s Medicaid spending – which comprises the majority of the spending in the bill. The House passed its version of the bill on Monday of this week.
Governor Patrick continued to be adamant this week about the need for the Legislature to quickly pass a supplemental budget. According to the Patrick Administration, without the supplemental funding many state programs and services would be in jeopardy, including the possibility of jails closing and disabled and low-income residents losing access to health care. The spending bill will fund $203 million in Medicaid costs to cover services for the elderly and disabled. Additionally, it will fund the Department of Corrections at $21 million and help shore up the State Police account with an additional $5 million. $195 million will be set aside for the state’s rainy day fund.
New developments surrounding Paul Loscocco’s resignation from independent gubernatorial candidate Tim Cahill‘s campaign continued this week. Loscocco, a former Republican State Representative from Holliston announced last week that he would no longer be campaigning as Tim Cahill’s running mate, and then endorsed Charlie Baker the same day. This week Treasurer Tim Cahill filed a lawsuit against former senior strategists John Weaver and John Yob, former campaign manager Adam Meldrum and political director Jordan Gehrke. Cahill alleges that these senior staff members collaborated to give confidential campaign materials and strategy to the Republican Governors Association and the Baker campaign both before and after leaving the Cahill campaign.
According to the National Journal Group’s The Hotline, the Governorship in Massachusetts is the 22nd most likely to see the incumbent party lose in November. In the most recent Rasmussen poll from last week, Gov. Deval Patrick held a slight 47-42 lead over the Republican nominee Charlie Baker, which was within the margin of error. The Hotline ranking represents the first time that the Governor’s race in Massachusetts has been defined as a down-to-the-wire toss-up. Other Democratic states in which the Governor’s seat is more likely to change party hands include Oregon, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
The Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM), which measures business confidence in the state through a survey it sends out to its members, said this week that business confidence was flat last month after rising for the last two months. The AIM confidence index is currently at 47.6 on its 100 point scale. The index reached its all time low last year at 33.3 in February of 2009 (compared to a high of 68.5 in May 1998).
The state’s tax collections for the month of September were announced this week and they were up $250 million from the same period one year ago, an increase of 14.2%. The Department of Revenue now expects to beat benchmarks by $197 million. Revenue Commissioner Navjeet Bal said that September is one of the largest months of the year for tax receipts. The Patrick Administration pointed to the September numbers as evidence that the state is moving away from its recession and has started to climb out of its historic downturn.
John Nunnari, Assoc AIA