Fiscal Matters At The Fore

By Sarah Birnbaum

Jul. 5, 2011

A view of the State House in Boston. (Philocrites/Flickr)

BOSTON — It’s a light week on Beacon Hill, with a focus on fiscal matters.

Governor Patrick and his finance team will be poring over the details of the budget plan for fiscal year 2012. Last week, lawmakers approved a $30.6 billion budget. The plan includes no new taxes, but makes deep cuts to Medicaid and human services. The spending plan also contains a provision ending municipal workers’ collective bargaining rights on their health-care benefits.

The governor and lawmakers are also casting worried glances at Washington, D.C. The federal deficit reduction package could include some spending cuts impacting Massachusetts and other states. Bay State lawmakers are concerned about the fate of federal Medicaid reimbursements for hospitals treating the poor, elderly and disabled. Also in doubt is funding to help implement parts of the national health-care reform law.

And the highlight of the week at the State House may be a meeting of the Governor’s Council, which vets judicial nominees. It might sound boring, but recent meetings have been very contentious between councilors Thomas Merrigan from Greenfield and Marilynn Devaney from Watertown.

Devaney has been accusing Merrigan of scheming to place his political supporters in lucrative, lifetime judgeships. Merrigan denies the claims, and has called Devaney “malicious” and “irrational”. And at one meeting, he even brought up an incident from Devaney’s past where she was sentenced to probation for throwing a curling iron at a store clerk.

Wednesday’s meeting also promises to be colorful, with a vote scheduled on the controversial nomination of state Representative Christopher Speranzo to the Pittsfield District Court.

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