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Governor's office schedules area budget hearings Dec. 7, 10, 17

Date: 12/8/2009

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

BOSTON -- Do you have an idea about how the state should spend your tax dollars? Gov. Deval Patrick wants to hear citizen's opinions and has scheduled five weeks of budget hearings and forums.

Western Massachusetts residents will have the opportunity to present their opinions to state officials on Dec. 7, 10 and 17 in three venues in Springfield.

On Dec. 7, Secretary of MassDOT (Department of Transportation) Jeffrey Mullan will conduct a budget hearing from 6 to 8 p.m. at Springfield City Hall. On Dec. 10, Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Suzanne Bump will preside over a budget forum at Futureworks Career Center at the Springfield Technical Community College Technology Park from 5 to 7 p.m. Dec. 17, Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Greg Bialecki will moderate a budget hearing at a location yet to be announced from 6 to 8 p.m.

All forums and hearings are open to the public.

According to the state's Web site, there is a difference between a hearing and a forum. "A budget hearing provides an opportunity for interested parties to submit formal testimony (both written and verbal) as part of the fiscal year 2011 recommendation process. Open to the public, hearings generally attract stakeholders with specific comments and recommendations. Most will be held in state office buildings."

A budget forum is a more informal event that "provides an opportunity for everyone to participate in an open conversation about the Commonwealth's budget .the conversations are generally less technical, encourage greater dialogue and will address the budget as a whole."

Earlier this year the governor and members of his cabinet undertook a similar series of hearings and forums to assess the priorities of the Commonwealth's citizens.

"We are deeply committed to providing fiscal leadership in these challenging times that is based on our values," Patrick said. "These forums will help us accomplish that critical goal, as we begin the FY 2011 budget process."