Downtown Worcester from Franklin St. (public domain)
June 27, 2010 - Republicans in the U.S. Senate blocked Democrats from extending unemployment benefits and allocating billions in federal recovery assistance to states to cover health care costs for the poor.
Within hours, Massachusetts legislators were forced to agree to a state budget that enacted budget cuts.
This will affect Massachusetts right away, as the spending cuts begin Thursday with the start of the 2011 fiscal year, which starts July 1st. This is the case with several states around the country.
Before Republicans, including Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown, started this delaying tactic, the Massachusetts Legislature was already set to pass a budget with up to 1,500 state worker layoffs and cuts to local aid and key state services.
The Republican publicity stunt forced state lawmakers to cut another $360 million in spending and take another $195 million from the rainy day account to make up for the potential loss of $687 million in federal Medicaid funding they had been counting on.
Funds were eliminated for housing, food and medical programs for low income families, state colleges, park staffing, police, courts, prisons and job training.
Even the small support the state provides for the Boys & Girls Club of Worcester, will be cut when the budget takes effect.
At least 90,000 unemployed people across Massachusetts will have their benefits cut off. Sen. Brown had comments to send back to the Commonwealth.
“Increasing the deficit and raising taxes is not what Americans are looking for from their elected leaders in Washington,” said Sen. Brown, who, again, voted to block the extension bill.
“I cannot support the debt extenders’ bill because it still includes tens of billions in tax increases and still includes tens of billions in deficit spending.” Apparently, he doesn't care what that does to the people of his state, knowing that Massachusetts depended on these federal funds. He voted against them anyway.