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Budget watchdog warns of 'precarious financial position'

The Legislature and the administration deserve credit for a bona fide attempt at solving the budget gap for the fiscal year that begins Friday, said Eileen McAnneny, the foundations president. But were not out of the woods yet due to uncertainty with revenue, the global economy, and reliability of some of the solutions.

Among those solutions were changing assumptions about how many people would use taxpayer-funded programs such as Massachusetts massive Medicaid health program for the poor and disabled; counting on $100 million in efficiencies in government procurement; assuming the states automatic income tax rollback, which is premised on strong economic activity, doesnt take place; and paying some Medicaid bills in the subsequent fiscal year.

Administration and legislative officials euphemize that common kick-the-can budget tactic as cash management.

To close a budget hole Governor Charlie Baker faced when he first came into office in 2015, his administration used a lot of cash management as well.

Asked Thursday whether paying bills later as a tool to avoid cuts is the right move, even though it could burden future policymakers with even more difficult fiscal decisions, Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders indicated the tactic is fine if not used overzealously.

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