July 16, 2008
Dorchester and Mattapan appear to have emerged relatively unscathed from an encounter between the state's $28.2 billion budget and Gov. Deval Patrick's veto pen. Patrick on Sunday vetoed $122.5 million out of the budget lawmakers sent to his desk earlier this month.
The vetoes included a $100,000 earmark - one of the 960 earmarks that the Legislature inserted into the budget and one of the 260 that Patrick vetoed - for the Timilty Adult Day Health and Memory Loss Center in Codman Square. The center opened in 2004 and provides day care for seniors and their families dealing with Alzheimer's disease.
"While there is merit to many of the budget items that I have eliminated or reduced, our present fiscal challenges simply demand increased restraint," Patrick said in a speech to reporters. "Incidentally, these vetoes reflect spending proposed by both the administration as well as legislators."
State Rep. Marty Walsh said he plans to lobby House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi to override the veto. Another item Dorchester lawmakers were pushing for, Citizens Schools, an after-school program for middle school students, saw a line item for matching grants reduced by $75,000 to $475,000.
Overrides require a two-thirds vote of each branch and start in the House.
In a statement, House budget leader Robert DeLeo (D-Winthrop) said he was pleased Patrick "lent his approval to 99 percent of the appropriations the Legislature approved."
Lawmakers are expected to take up the vetoes before the end of the month, when formal sessions end and legislators return to their districts for September and November elections.
Patrick budget chief Leslie Kirwan told reporters that any funds lawmakers restore would result in increased spending controls and midyear cuts, according to the State House News Service.
An analysis on Tuesday from the left-leaning Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center showed that Patrick's vetoes could produce net savings of $93.6 million, and most of the vetoes came from health care, economic development, higher education and the judiciary.
"There is still a real danger that the weakening national economy will create significant fiscal problems for the state in FY 2009," the analysis said.