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PRESS RELEASE- Massachusetts Senate Announces Furloughs
April 29, 2009

Boston – Adding to recent Senate cost-saving measures, State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D-Pittsfield) joined Senate President Therese Murray and Minority Leader Richard Tisei today in a bi-partisan announcement that all senators will take furlough days before July 1st to help close the gap in the state’s current fiscal year 2009 budget.

 

“Senators are simply doing what small businesses and families across the Commonwealth are doing,” said Downing.  “Tightening our belts and finding ways to do more with less. I appreciate the leadership of the Senate President and Minority Leader on this issue and look forward to working with them to meet the needs of the Commonwealth in these challenging times.”

 

April’s tax revenue figures indicate the Commonwealth could be facing an additional shortfall of hundreds of millions of dollars in addition to the $2 billion shortfall the state has already experienced this fiscal year.

 

“Even though the savings of this particular action don’t amount to a large figure, every little bit counts,” President Murray said. “This isn’t just symbolic. We’re all feeling the effects of this economic downturn, and we are all sharing in the pain. As the Senate moves forward with its reform agenda and continues work on its own budget recommendations and revenue options, we must remember that we’re in this together. Everything is on the table, and every agency, program and line-item must be scrutinized. We owe it to the public.”

 

Senators making between $50,000 and $75,000 per year will take three furlough days, while those making $75,000 or more per year will take five furlough days. The total savings amounts to approximately $50,000.

 

“Many Senate members have already decided not to accept their pay raises or have donated the extra money to charity instead,” Minority Leader Tisei said. “This is just another way that we as legislators can do our part to help the Commonwealth get through these difficult economic times.”

 

The furloughs are the latest cost-saving action taken by the Senate. Recent savings in Senate operations include:

 

  • $25,000 from the reduction of office supplies, including paper and citations;
  • $50,000 from 2008 to 2009 through renegotiation of Xerox lease;
  • $215,000 from a freeze on budgeted wage increases effective February 1, 2009;
  • Additional savings from a freeze on hiring effective February 1, 2009;
  • Additional savings from a freeze on all travel as of October 21, 2008;
  • Additional savings from a freeze on future capital improvements to Senate work spaces, except for emergency repairs.

 

Also, the Senate and House in October 2008 voluntarily reduced the Legislature’s collective budget by 10 percent, saving $9.1 million, and made an additional voluntary cut of 2 percent in January 2009, saving another $1.6 million for a total of $10.7 million.

 

 

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