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Mayor Says Braintree Prepared, if Necessary, for Local Aid Cuts

Gov. Patrick has proposed a wide-ranging plan to cover a budget gap that he blamed on the upcoming "fiscal cliff" created by Congress and lower-than-expected state receipts.

The local aid reductions proposed by Gov. Deval Patrick to help close an expected $540 million state budget gap could mean a $70,000 to $100,000 hit for Braintree if approved by lawmakers.

Patrick blamed the mid-year cuts on the failure by President Obama and members of Congress to avert a "fiscal cliff" of massive federal spending decreases. The reductions, scheduled to begin gradually in January, were put in place after a Congressional "super committee" failed to reach a deal on reducing the budget deficit.

“The uncertainty of the fiscal cliff and the resulting slow down in growth, is the direct cause of our budget challenges," Patrick said in a statement.

In the statement released on Tuesday, Patrick said that the administration revised the current fiscal year's tax revenue estimate from $22.01 billion to $21.496 billion.

Among the governor's proposed solutions is a $9 million cut to unrestricted local aid and an $11 million cut to special education funding.

"The inaction at the federal level does have impacts," Mayor Joseph Sullivan said. "This is something we have to watch very closely."

Still, Sullivan said that Braintree can weather the reductions through its reserve funds if they materialize next year. "The sky is not falling. We'll figure it out," he said.

A robust holiday shopping season could head off some of the reductions, Sullivan said, as could a deal reached in Washington.

Sen. John F. Keenan, D-Quincy, said that the local cuts will more than likely not be taken up by the legislature until it returns to formal session in January.

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, R-Gloucester, called on his fellow lawmakers to take action to control health care spending, among other measures, to improve the overall fiscal state of the Commonwealth. He also said the Gaming Commission should accelerate its efforts to bring in new revenues to support local spending.

"The proposal of these cuts is a call for action to spur economic growth and avoid future cuts before important programs like local aid are further imperiled," Tarr said in a statement.

Patrick vowed to committ any excess lottery funds this fiscal year to increasing local aid.

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