EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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March 5, 2013

Legislators make pledge to press for more state aid

NORTH ANDOVER – The two Republicans and two Democrats who represent North Andover in the Legislature told local officials yesterday morning they will try to secure as much financial help for cities and towns as possible.

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, R-Gloucester; Sen. Kathleen O’Connor Ives, D-Newburyport and Reps. James Lyons, R-Andover and Diana DiZoglio, D-Methuen also said they would urge the state Department of Transportation to make Route 114 safer for pedestrians and to include North Andover’s name on Interstate 495 signs.

Town Moderator Mark DiSalvo suggested that the town’s entire name be inscribed on the signs instead of the abbreviated form of “No. Andover.”

Gov. Deval Patrick has submitted a budget of $36.5 billion – an increase of 7 percent over last year’s spending plan. Tarr called it a “dramatic expansion of spending.”

Selectman Rosemary Connelly Smedile called the proposed increase “outrageous.”

To pay for the higher budget, Patrick wants to raise the income tax from 5.25 percent to 6.25 percent and trim the sales tax – which climbed from 5 percent to 6.25 percent two years ago – to 4.5 percent. The governor also seeks to eliminate several personal exemptions and deductions from the income tax.

The tax hikes Patrick is recommending amount to nearly $2 billion. Tarr, who has served as a state lawmaker for more than two decades, said Patrick’s budget “will not be adopted in its entirety by the Legislature.”

Lyons has been outspoken in his opposition to the tax increases Patrick advocates. Patrick, he said, is “out of touch with communities” and wants to keep money in the “state bureaucracy” while he and other GOP legislators want to provide more dollars for cities and towns.

Lyons supports legislation that would guarantee each community state aid equal to 17.5 percent of its “foundation” school budget – the amount determined by the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to be what’s needed to provide adequate learning.

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