Week Ending December 10, 2010
Prior to his weekly meeting with House and Senate leaders, Governor Patrick said that he is preparing a supplemental budget bill for FY2011 to fund mid- year spending deficits in numerous state programs. Tax receipts have exceeded projections for the first half of FY2011, leaving the state with a revenue surplus. However, increased enrollment estimates for MassHealth and other social service programs will likely cut into this surplus. According to Governor Patrick, legislative leaders in both chambers have requested that he address the spending requests now. This would be a change from previous years in which the Governor waited until January to file any supplemental budget, in conjunction with the release of his annual budget. Tax collections are currently $500 million above benchmarks although greater demand for Medicaid is expected to reach $500 million as well.
Having said that probation reform would be his top priority, Speaker Robert DeLeo (D-Winthrop) announced this week that he would support moving the Probation Department into the Civil Service system. Republicans immediately criticized the proposal, saying that Speaker DeLeo and other legislators were responsible for the scandal and are thus more worried about protecting themselves than reforming the system. Released last month, the Ware report detailed systemic abuse and corruption within the Massachusetts Probation Department. DeLeo’s proposal is in conflict with the position held by Governor Patrick, who has repeatedly pressed for merging the probation department into an agency within the executive branch, arguing that housing the probation and parole boards under one roof would provide prisoners re-entering society with a smoother transition. On Monday, Governor Patrick, Senate President Therese Murray and Speaker DeLeo announced the creation of a nine-member commission to overhaul the state’s probation system.
The Massachusetts Association of Realtors released statistics this week which showed that the number of single family homes placed under purchase and sales agreements were almost unchanged compared to November 2009. This was the first time in the last six months that pending home sales had not decreased compared to 2009. Purchase and sales agreements last month were down 9% versus one year earlier. Kevin Sears, president of the Massachusetts Association of Realtors, predicted that based on the lack of a drop in sales this past month, pending home purchase agreements will continue to increase in December.
Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) measures business confidence in the state through a survey it sends out to its members. The AIM confidence index is currently at 52.1, a 3.2% drop since October. However, any score over 50 is considered in the positive range. If the business confidence in the state stays at its current level, it will be at its highest level since the end of 2007. The index reached its all time low in February 2009.
John Nunnari, Assoc AIA
Executive Director, AIA MA
MA Chapter of American Institute of Architects
The Architects Building
52 Broad Street, Boston MA 02109-4301