PSLweb/Liberation takes a look at the anti- worker offensive taking place across the country in the form of budget cuts.

In the midst of what is now officially an economic recession, Gov. Deval Patrick announced that he would be cutting Massachusetts’ budget by a sizable $1 billion. These budget cuts would eliminate at least 1,000 government jobs and result in ample funding cuts for several programs and services.

The broad budget cuts are dispersed amongst many areas of social spending, including education, health care and human services.

Patrick plans on cutting a total of $101.5 million in education funding. Early-education and early-care programs will lose funds for payments to low-income childcare providers. Elementary and secondary education will see a significant decrease in funding used for interventions necessary for under-performing schools. All nine state and 15 community colleges will see a decrease of 5 percent in state support. Several elementary and secondary schools are on the verge of being shut down, potentially leaving hundreds of workers and teachers without jobs.

While health insurance has become mandatory in Massachusetts, Patrick plans on reducing funding for health care programs by $340.2 million—with Medicaid taking the biggest hit. Patrick plans on cutting a total of $9.6 million from AIDS/HIV prevention services and substance abuse programs, including the Division of Substance Abuse Services. Funding will also be reduced for adult mental health, which includes the elimination of a social service organization that provides vocational programs for people with mental illnesses and disabilities.

That, however, will not happen without a fight. Vic DiGravio, CEO of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Corps. of Massachusetts, has spoken out against Gov. Patrick’s assault on the budget. “We’re not assuming the cuts are going to stand,” said DiGravio. “We’re not standing still, saying, ‘OK, it’s a terrible time, so we’ve got to accept these cuts.’ These cuts … are devastating.” (MetroWest Daily News, Oct. 23)

The cuts will have devastating consequences for organizations such as DiGravio’s, which provide important medical services to those who need them most. Without these programs, many patients would end up hospitalized.

Much of Patrick’s budget were rammed through using the governor’s emergency budget-cutting power. Since then, the legislature has passed additional measures that include transferring up to $200 million from the state’s rainy day fund and delaying $100 million in payments to the state pension fund. The measure also cuts another $73.6 million in spending.

Working-class people are bearing the brunt of the state budget cuts. “I know you are anxious,” Gov. Patrick stated as he announced the cuts. “There is real cause for concern. But not for panic.”

Easy for Patrick to say. When he ran for governor in 2006, he disclosed an income of $3.8 million for the previous year. Gov. Patrick may downplay his assault on the budget if he so chooses, but that will hardly alleviate the impact of the cuts on the working class. That relief will only come as the product of struggle, not out of the kindness of rich politicians out of touch with the realities facing workers.