EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


April 11, 2013

Proposal gives city $3M more in aid

Asks for photos on EBT cards


In pitching the Ways and Means proposal yesterday, DeLeo said it delivers services to people who need them while paying heed to the fragile economy and the state’s strapped finances.

“Fiscal prudence is how he have kept our unemployment rate below the national average and it is the reason we are one of only four states with more than $1 billion in our stabilization fund,” DeLeo said, referring to the reserve account that is also known as the “rainy day” fund.

The Ways and Means plan, which the House will begin debating April 22, draws $50 million less than Patrick’s proposed spending from reserves. The fund would stand at $1.1 billion after it is tapped for next year’s budget under the House plan, DeLeo said.

Dempsey said his plan directs $265 million of the new tax revenue to transportation, and uses the balance to invest in local aid, Chapter 70 education aid and higher education. The proposal increases local transportation aid, which is used to pave and improve roads, for every city and town in the Merrimack Valley, Dempsey said.

The Ways and Means plan relies on $719.5 million in one-time revenues. Of the $838 million in estimated tax growth next fiscal year, the committee’s budget reports that $308 million will be consumed by increased costs of human and social services and $188 million in collective bargaining costs, leaving $530 million for other spending.

Dempsey’s budget level funds the special education circuit breaker and regional school transportation at $235.5 million and $45.5 million respectively.

The budget plan dedicates $39 million in increased funding to the University of Massachusetts as part of a strategy to achieve a 50 percent balance between state and university funding over the next two years that UMass officials have said would be sufficient to freeze tuition and fee rates for two years.

State universities and community colleges will also see a bump, in part because of new gaming money earmarked for the community colleges.

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