Romney given broader budget cutting
J. Fitzgibbons, Chronicle staff
voted last week to expand Gov. Mitt Romney's authority to make emergency
cuts in the areas of local aid and higher education to close a $450
million to $600 million gap in the current state budget.
officials said they would assess tax revenues before detailing any
cutbacks in state spending. Updated revenue reports were expected
to be released Wednesday. Romney's cuts will probably be announced
early next month.
Under the measure,
Romney can reduce funding for any state program, except for the
14 percent of the state budget which supports constitutional officers,
the Legislature, inspector general, comptroller and the judicial
branch and debt service.
The expanded fiscal
authority, which extends through June 30, gives the governor the
power to reduce the $5.5 billion set aside for local aid and the
$950 million for public higher education, which includes the University,
state college and community college systems.
The measure limits
the local aids cuts to one-third of the projected shortfall, or
about $200 million, in the worst-case scenario.
The Senate, which
removed House language that called for equal percentage reductions
to cities and towns and protecting "foundation" education
funding for poor communities, easily passed the measure 29-8. The
House then agreed to the changes after Romney promised to treat
all communities equally.
Last week, a President's
Office spokesman said the Board of Trustees will likely defer budget
discussions scheduled for its Feb. 12 meeting until after the governor
details his plans.