By Michael Norton
State House News Service
---- — BOSTON - Gov. Deval Patrick today signed a $33.6 billion state budget while slashing $240 million in transportation funding and $177 million in unrestricted local aid.
The vetoes are directly connected to an ongoing disagreement between the governor and the Legislature over the adequacy of a $500 million tax-raising bill intended to finance investments in the transportation system and throughout the budget for fiscal 2014, which began on July 1.
"Without the revenues from the transportation financing bill, this budget is out of balance," Patrick said at a State House press conference, explaining his vetoes while also touting the potential for the funds to be restored through a future budget bill.
In addition to its reliance on new taxes on cigarettes, gas, and businesses, the budget also draws $350 million from the state's rainy day account to maintain spending, leaving about $1.25 billion in that account.
At a State House press conference, Patrick touted the budget's $130 million increase in Chapter 70 public education funding, a $97 million investment in public higher education that will help avoid tuition and fee hikes for students, and a $15 million investment to provide funds for 1,000 children to participate in early education programs.
Patrick also returned with an amendment a provision of the budget calling for a judicial pay raise, recommending that the pay increases be expedited to take effect on Jan. 1, 2014 rather than July 1, 2015.
Patrick also vetoed $18.3 million in "non-essential legislative projects."
Legislative leaders plan next week to reject Patrick's plan to further boost taxes to fund transportation and will likely consider at least some of his vetoes this month. Patrick expressed hope that he will receive from the Legislature a “better bill” addressing taxes and transportation than the one he returned last week.