Patrick: Override of Zoo cuts would undermine health care

If the Legislature decides to override his veto of funds for the Franklin Park Zoo, Gov. Deval Patrick said his plan to keep health insurance coverage for 30,000 legal immigrants will be endangered.

“If the veto is overridden, the Legislature is making a choice in favor of the zoo and against health care,” Patrick told the Reporter on Monday morning.

“I come down in favor of health care for working people,” he added.

House Speaker Robert DeLeo has said he expects the House to override the $4 million veto for both Franklin Park and Stone Zoos, given the amount of calls lawmakers have received, according to the State House News Service.

Lawmakers are expected to debate the vetoes this week.

Patrick has filed a supplemental spending bill that sets aside $70 million for coverage for the legal immigrants, also known as “aliens with special status.” Their coverage ends this month unless lawmakers pass Patrick’s plan.

“There’s lot of tough cuts in this budget. The zoo has acknowledged that the animals would be safe,” Patrick said, referring to zoo officials backtracking from earlier statements that the animals would have to be euthanized. “It’s upsetting to me and a lot of people in the general public that they seem to be using these sorts of scare tactics to drive the budget debate.”

Patrick added: “Like everybody else, the zoo is going to have to do more with less. And we want to help with that.”

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