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Gov’s state budget shortfall cuts will affect fire dept., local programs

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Mayor: Local aid and school funding will not be impacted


By Neil Zolot


Everett is one of the state’s cities and towns that will be affected by projected cuts in state aid. “We’re still waiting to see,” Fire Department Chief Sabato LoRusso said about specifics of the $375 million reduction proposed by Governor Maura Healey to cover a $1 billion shortfall that will include roughly $1.68 million for local fire departments.

He’s expecting to get information from the state Department of Fire Services about aid and grants for things like hazmat equipment, although the Mayor’s Office has information that funding for the Fire Department will drop from $75,000 to $37,500. Funds for a computer-aided dispatch program for the EFD will drop from $100,000 to $50,000.

The cuts, which can be made unilaterally by the Governor without approval by legislators, are a result of unexpected revenue shortfalls. Under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 29, Section 9C, the Governor “has the authority to make spending reductions when there is a budget shortfall and there is no supplemental money to fund that shortfall,” according to the Mass.gov website.

Statewide, cuts are also slated for behavioral health supports ($5.2 million), housing services and counseling ($5 million), earmarks for parks ($772,500) and economic development projects ($11.3 million). Other things include grants for high school dual enrollments ($2.5 million), grants to local public health boards ($2.49 million) and grants to councils on aging ($950,000).

State Secretary of the Executive Office for Administration and Finance Matthew Gorzkowicz said the $8 billion “rainy day fund” will not be used and saved for more serious budget crises. “We see this as sort of a 12-18-month condition where we have to do some belt-tightening, but overall, we don’t see this as a recessionary environment and believe the economy will continue to grow in 2025,” he said.

He also said no one lost their job due to the shortfall; the cuts are under 1% of the state budget; and efforts to find shelter for homeless families and migrants were not a factor, an accusation made by state Republicans against Democrat Healey.

School funding and local aid shouldn’t be affected, but large cuts will be made to MassHealth, the state’s Medicaid program. Other cuts impacting Everett include funds for the Association of Women in Ministry International leadership program dropping from $50,000 to $25,000; funds for La Comunidad, an organization supporting the Latin-American community, dropping from $25,000 to $12,500 and funds for the Eliot Family Resource Center also dropping from $25,000 to $12,500.

“While I understand the necessity of the 9C exercise due to revenue collections falling below benchmarks, it’s never good news to be faced with budget cuts,” Mayor Carlo DeMaria said. “I am grateful local aid and school funding have not been impacted, but it is still troubling to see the trend of cuts being made to social and human service agencies and it’s to important public safety areas like fire services, given the important role they play in Everett. I will work with Senator Salvatore DiDomenico and State Representatives Judith Garcia, Joseph McGonagle and Dan Ryan to advocate for funds being restored in the upcoming fiscal budget based on the Healy administration’s assessment the decline in revenue is temporary and not indicative of a recession.”

“9C cuts are disruptive to our community’s priorities, but I was happy to see, based on current information, school funding and other local aid do not appear to be impacted,” City Council President Robert Van Campen (Ward 5) added. “I look forward to working with the Mayor and our entire state delegation to ensure alternative funding sources are identified to allow any initiatives to move forward.”

La Comunidad founder and executive director Antonio Amaya said they will have to find a way to raise money to continue to provide free services like citizenship or English classes, either through donations from a private source or holding fundraising events. “The classes are resources people use to improve their lives,” he reported. He also said he would work with local officials to try to ensure funding appropriated in Fiscal 2024 is restored to the Fiscal 2025 budget.

“Governor Healey recently made some cuts to the Fiscal 2024 budget in [an] attempt to balance the budget,” Garcia’s aide Taylor Sprague said. “Only about 5% of the cuts are for community earmarks. Right now, we’re being told there will be less funding in the Fiscal 2025 budget as well, but we don’t have a lot of information on this.”

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