Roundtable Addresses State Fiscal Challenges


The Herculean task of managing the Massachusetts budget in the face of a deteriorating economy, dwindling state revenues, and a deepening fiscal crisis will require painful choices, and the Rappaport Center for Law and Public Service at Suffolk University Law School recently hosted a roundtable discussion of the challenges.

State government, academic, and think tank leaders gathered to grapple with the hard choices that must be made to address the current fiscal storm in Massachusetts.

The roundtable event, moderated by Alasdair Roberts, the Rappaport Professor of Law and Public Policy at the Law School, was held two days after Gov. Deval Patrick filed his emergency recovery plan.

Participants included:

  • Sen. Steven Panagiotakos, chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee
  • Noah Berger, executive director of the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center
  • Martin Benison, state comptroller
  • James Heintz of the Political Economy Research Institute at UMass Amherst

Experts outlined the difficult choices facing the state Legislature during the upcoming budget process and addressed those areas of  expenditure that must be protected despite the economic downturn. Some predicted areas that will see cuts include public safety, human services and public higher education.

Experts painted a gloomy portrait of Massachusetts’ fiscal situation and pointed to the state’s “revenue problem,” caused by steep declines in sales, capital gains and other tax receipts. Those revenue declines are hitting cities and towns in the form of reductions in state aid.

“The Rappaport Center for Law and Public Service is taking an active role in hosting these kinds of important, and often difficult, discussions,” said Susan Prosnitz, executive director.   “The center seeks to bring together policymakers, academics, representatives of private industry, and others to address current public policy issues that affect people at the state and local level.”

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Greg Gatlin

Mariellen Norris