EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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July 13, 2013

Patrick slashes $177M in local aid from budget

Legislature mulls override of vetoes to restore funds to cities and towns

HAVERHILL — Mayor James Fiorentini said he's worried, but at this time isn't in a panic about Gov. Deval Patrick's proposed state budget containing $177 million in cuts to unrestricted local aid.

Fiorentini said the governor had informed him of his proposed cut, but that he won't know how it might impact Haverhill's budget until next week.

"We are aware of what's happening but we're not going to panic," Fiorentini said following a press conference Patrick held at the statehouse yesterday at which he signed a $33.6 billion budget, vetoing $240 million in transportation funding and $177 million in unrestricted local aid. Patrick said his cut to local aid amounted to about a 20 percent reduction and that without his vetoes, the budget would be out of balance and that he would not sign an out of balance budget.

Fiorentini said unrestricted local aid can be used for any purpose, in contrast to Chapter 70 money, which provides aid for schools and Chapter 90 money which is for road construction and improvements.

"If he had to veto something, we side with the Legislature on this, as it was the wrong thing to pick," Fiorentini said. "Although we've been a very big supporter of the governor, he did campaign on a platform that he would not cut local aid."

A press release issued by the Governor's office stated that Patrick's budget for the next fiscal year is a balanced one that makes significant investments in education, health care cost containment and youth violence prevention.

The FY14 budget increases Chapter 70 education funding by $130 million over FY13 to $4.3 billion, bringing funding for Chapter 70 aid to the highest level in state history, according to the governor's office. Patrick's budget also includes $15 million in new investments for early education.

“This budget invests in many of our most important needs as a Commonwealth, especially education, reforms government in ways that make it perform better, and is balanced,” Patrick said.

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