Financial meltdown tests Patrick, Mass. leaders

Associated Press | 10/15/2008, 4:16 a.m.

Attorney General Martha Coakley is also looking for where to cut without inhibiting the office’s ability to bring in revenue, according to spokeswoman Emily LaGrassa.

LaGrassa said the office generates money for the state from lawsuits and fraud investigations. She said the office has also saved consumers money by lowering gas, electricity and insurance rates.

Patrick has also asked the courts to cut back.

Joan Kenney, a spokeswoman for the Administrative Office of the Trial Court, said Chief Justice Margaret Marshall and Chief Justice Robert Mulligan have been talking with the chief justices of every trial court department.

“Every aspect of the judicial branch budget is under a magnifying glass right now,” Kenney said.

Despite the economic slowdown, Patrick said he hopes to insulate some of the key initiatives he helped push through during his first 21 months in office.

“We are as much as possible looking at where we can take cuts that may be deeper in some areas so we can afford the initiatives that are important to this administration,” he said.

Officials have reassured city and town leaders that local aid payments will likely be spared from the first round of cuts, but other steps said to have been under consideration included reducing the ranks of state police officers and paying them at the lower rate, and eliminating the law that gives raises of up to 25 percent to officers with college degrees.

Patrick has also pushed for a series of initiatives designed to streamline government, including dismantling the Turnpike Authority, consolidating state agencies, and reforming the state and MBTA pension systems.

Those initiatives would have little immediate impact on the state’s fiscal woes.

(Associated Press)