"There is no public purpose," said Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation. "These people have earned a good pension that they will be able to collect at age 55. I don't think there's any rationale that they should be able to collect a pension in their 40s." Widmer said most of the people who take advantage of the law do not actually retire, but go on to other well-paying jobs.
Michael Widmer, of the nonpartisan, business-backed Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, said Patrick has "made the best of a very difficult situation" with his blend of cuts, new revenues and rainy day withdrawals.
"I don't think we've hit bottom yet so, as bad as this is, I think it can get worse," said Michael Widmer, president of the widely respected Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation. "The revenue forecast around which the governor built his budget is almost a billion dollars too high, we believe. Whatever cuts are embedded in this budget, we think there are going to need to be more cuts."
Michael Widmer, the president of the business-backed Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, said the Medicaid money in the federal stimulus package would ease some of the state's fiscal pressures, but wouldn't be enough to solve all the problems. "Most of the other money has some strings attached," he said. "It's good to have it, but it won't provide any direct budget relief, beyond what the administration is already counting on."
The President of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation said having a presence in Washington, D.C. is an important thing and doesn't think four staff sounds outrageous. But he said fewer people at the office would be reasonable under the current financial circumstances.
Patrick's plan to balance the $28 billion budget in 2010 depends heavily on fairly optimistic revenue forecasts, the swift arrival of federal stimulus funds, and big hits on the state's rainy day fund. But the nonprofit Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation warns that Patrick's $19.5 billion revenue forecast is too rosy by about $1 billion. If so, 2011 could make 2010 look like the glory days.