EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


April 11, 2013

Proposal gives city $3M more in aid

Asks for photos on EBT cards

BOSTON — Haverhill schools and its local government would see more than $3 million in increased state aid next fiscal year, according to a $33.8 billion budget approved yesterday by the House Ways and Means Committee.

The spending plan, unveiled by House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Ways and Means Chairman Brian Dempsey, D-Haverhill, also would send the city $2.4 million — the same as the prior two years — to help pay its annual debt on the formerly city-owned Hale Hospital. Next year’s payment on the hospital debt is $9.2 million — money that comes off the top of the city’s yearly operating budget.

The lion’s share of increases for Haverhill in the Ways and Means plan goes to the school district — $2,937,593 more than this year. Local aid for general government spending would increase by $196,593 and school aid for Whittier Regional Technical High School would rise by $178,060. The additional school money is on top of a $4 million increase the Haverhill district received this year.

Haverhill Mayor James Fiorentini said the Ways and Means budget, if passed, will allow the city to continue its progress in education, add more police officers and pay the Hale debt with cutting vital services.

“I want the public to understand what a big deal this is for the city and what a tremendous effort it is for Chairman Dempsey to be able to put Hale debt relief money into the House Ways and Means Committee budget for our city,” Fiorentini said. “We do not take this for granted and public should not do so either.”

The statewide spending proposal, which now heads to the full House for debate and then the Senate, calls for a 3.9 percent increase in spending and $500 million in new gas, cigarette and business taxes.

The Ways and Means budget also proposes reforms and initiatives in the areas of health and human services oversight, higher education and early education and care, including a requirement that the Department of Transitional Assistance issue photo ID cards for electronic benefit transfer card recipients intended to weed out EBT fraud.

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