Patrick blames GOP for automatic budget cuts
BOSTON (AP) — Gov. Deval Patrick said Monday that automatic federal spending cuts could potentially cost Massachusetts hundreds of millions of dollars, and he’s putting the blame squarely on Republicans for the failure to reach a deal.
Patrick met with reporters at the Statehouse on Monday after returning from a 10-day trip that included a trade mission to Colombia and a meeting of the nation’s governors in Washington.
The Democrat and ally of President Barack Obama said there was little hope of heading off the automatic spending cuts, scheduled to take effect on Friday.
“There is very little confidence in Washington that there will be a deal before the end of the week,” Patrick said, while adding: “Hope springs eternal.”
He blamed the impasse on a failure of House Republican leaders, including Speaker John Boehner, to schedule a vote on Obama’s plan to raise revenue by closing some tax loopholes for wealthy individuals and corporations.
“This is a failure of the Republican House because the Republican speaker, I believe, has the votes for a deal that’s balanced, that reflects the view of an overwhelming majority of the American people. But he’s (Boehner) got one plan on the table ... and it’s the president’s and he has not brought it to the floor,” Patrick said.
The governor said the federal government has yet to provide specific information on how the automatic cuts will be implemented.
Patrick said there are no immediate plans for layoffs or furloughs of state employees and nothing specific will happen immediately because all state officials have right now are “general projections” about what the spending cuts will mean for Massachusetts.
He said there likely won’t be specific information about exactly where the cuts will fall until after the deadline passes.
“The biggest impact is going to come outside of state government,” Patrick said, referring to cuts that will affect defense contractors and research facilities located in Massachusetts.
The governor also said he was concerned that a slowdown in the economy could lead to a possible reduction in state tax revenue.
Secretary of Administration and Finance Glen Shor said he didn’t believe the state-by-state analysis released by the White House Sunday night represented “scare tactics,” as some Republican lawmakers have charged.
He said agencies would begin drawing up contingency plans once there is more information from the federal government.
Asked about a suggestion he made on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that Republicans deliberately want to crash economy, Patrick said, “It certainly feels that way.”
Meanwhile, Patrick called his trip to Columbia a success for both sides.
During the trip, Patrick and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos signed a memorandum of understanding intended to strengthen collaboration between Massachusetts and the South American nation.
The agreement focuses on science, technology, the life sciences and clean energy, areas that Patrick has focused on during his years as governor.
Patrick said one goal of the trip was to help spur job growth in Massachusetts.
Associated Press writers Bob Salsberg contributed to this report.