HEADLINES : Massachusetts
Mass. negotiators agree on $32.5B state budget; vote set Thursday
The House and Senate on Thursday will vote on a $32.5 billion state budget for fiscal 2013 after negotiators struck a compromise that increases funding for local aid, keeps Taunton Hospital open, and makes some reforms to the state's welfare and immigrant verification systems.
"Leading the way is local aid. We made a very, very strong commitment to local aid and I think as you look at the last several years and the challenges we faced, this is certainly moving us in a direction, putting us back on track to enhance our partnership with cities and towns," House Ways and Means Chairman Brian Dempsey said.
The budget, which was reported out of a six-member conference committee Wednesday night and filed with the House clerk just before 8 p.m., directs $5.7 billion in state revenues back to cities and towns for spending at the local level, almost $289 million more than the current fiscal year.
With $899 million in unrestricted local aid and $4.17 billion for local school districts, the budget for the first time, would also dedicate $11.3 million to fund school transportation for homeless students mandated under the federal McKinney-Vento Act.
The budget reflects a continued dependence on one-time revenues to support spending, despite economic growth.
Dempsey said the budget proposes to draw $350 million form the state's "rainy day" account, leaving roughly $1.2 billion in reserves, and spends the $516 million in one-time revenues, or $120 million less than last year and down from $2 billion in fiscal 2011.