Posted by: Elizabeth Clay, Director of Grassroots Governance
Last night over one hundred residents and local officials packed the GAR room in Melrose Memorial Hall to discuss the Commonwealth's Budget. After a warm welcome by Mayor Dolan, the Governor told the crowd about the tough choices that we are facing and the need to discuss our priorities as a community.
Assistant Secretary for the Budget at the Executive Office of Administration and Finance, Matt Gorzkowicz shared details of state revenues, expenditures and the $3 billion budget shortfall. [Watch the slide presentation here]
As the conversation opened up, citizens talked about prioritizing people and making smart investments that avoid negative and costly outcomes. Specific issues raised included support for Mass. Rental Voucher program to house homeless families, the Soldier's Homes in Chelsea and Holyoke, seniors who want support to age in their homes and youth with developmental disabilities who want support to lead independent lives. Responding to the Governor's request about where to make necessary budget cuts, a recent UMass grad asked that his taxes be raised to make more revenue available for programs, and several members of the audience agreed.
Governor Patrick told everyone that he sees the families and the individuals behind every line item, and that budget cuts are not an abstraction. This is part of the reason he asked his Cabinet Secretaries to host 19 forums and hearings across the Commonwealth, to make sure they remain in touch with community priorities. The Governor and his Constituent Services team stayed until all questions were answered, but we can continue the dialogue here throughout this week, and all the comments will be shared with the Governor and Cabinet as they make decisions over the next six weeks.
Two more forums are left:
Secretary of Education Paul Reville will host one starting at 5pm Wednesday (12/16) at Lilla G. Frederick Pilot Middle School, 270 Columbia Road, Dorchester, MA.
Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Greg Bialecki will host the final forum on Thursday (12/17) at 6pm at 1200 Hall of Fame Avenue, Springfield, MA.