MetroWest Daily News: Rep apologizes for loss of state aid

State Sen. James Eldridge, D-Acton, said he and Hogan are working to bring federal stimulus money to the district for road construction projects, wastewater treatment renovations and alternative energy programs, which may not be funded because of state budget cuts.

By Jeff Malachowski
April 17, 2009

State Rep. Kate Hogan, D-Stow, apologized for the deep cuts to local aid included in the House Ways and Means budget unveiled this week, but said cities and towns must work together to get through this economic crisis.

“I’m sorry,” Hogan told local business owners yesterday at a legislative breakfast at Charter Oaks Country Club. “We need to roll up our sleeves and work together. This is not like anything we’ve ever seen before.”

The Massachusetts House proposed a $27.4 billion budget Wednesday, which includes deep cuts to local aid, public safety, road maintenance and other local services.

Education aid will remain funded at this year’s level, which Hogan said is the House’s highest priority. Other cuts in the House budget include requiring non-profit agencies to drop nearly 4,000 seniors from homecare services and cutting funding for a rental program for low-income families.

“There is no fat in this budget,” said Hogan.

On Thursday, Rep. Charles Murphy, a Burlington Democrat who recently moved into the chairmanship of the House Ways and Means Committee, defended the cuts in the House version of the budget, including not seeking tax increases to prop up state aid.

At the breakfast yesterday, Hogan said Massachusetts is one of 45 states facing a budget shortfall and fiscal year 2009 could come to a close with a deficit. She said the state would use money from the rainy day fund to offset that deficit, if necessary.

State Sen. James Eldridge, D-Acton, said he and Hogan are working to bring federal stimulus money to the district for road construction projects, wastewater treatment renovations and alternative energy programs, which may not be funded because of state budget cuts.

Eldridge said it is important for the state to attract biotechnology companies and strive to utilize alternative energy programs.

“People I have talked to have said the services they received during the last two years have declined,” he said. “These are all priorities Rep. Hogan and I are fighting for to get stimulus money into the community.”

With many roads in tough shape, Eldridge said if a gas tax increased is passed, he would like to see some of that money used to fund improvements to local roads. The governor has proposed a 19-cent per gallon increase in the gasoline tax but debate is continuing on that issue.

“Given the low quality of our roads and bridges and commuter rails, we do need to find a way to fund that,” he said.

Hogan told business owners from throughout the region she is planning to take touring local businesses to meet owners and employees. She said small businesses will be vital in helping towns and the state get through the economic situation.

“I believe small businesses will be the engine of our recovery,” Hogan said.

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