April 11, 2012
BOSTON — Massachusetts Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo unveiled a $32.3 billion state budget on Wednesday that would deal a blow to some of Gov. Deval Patrick's major policy initiatives.
The House plan rejects Patrick's proposal to merge authority of the state's 15 community colleges under a central board.
House Ways and Means Chairman Brian Dempsey said community colleges are already doing a fine job training students to meet the needs of local employers.
"One of the things we have found in talking with community colleges and talking with business community from the region of community college, they've been very effective," he said. "If we were to raise the governance piece to Boston, does that impact the speed in which we would respond to the business community in the particular regions?"
The House budget also rejects Patrick's plan to raise taxes on candy, soda and cigarettes by $260 million. Instead, the plan would close a $790 million budget gap with one-time money and program cuts.
Noah Berger of the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center thought it was a judicious approach. "The proposal doesn't make cuts as deeply as the last several years, but there are a number of smaller cuts throughout the budget," he said.
For example, the budget proposes reducing child care funds for low-income families by $8 million and reducing grants to address gang violence by $6 million. But the House budget also boosts state spending for cities and towns in this election year. In January, Patrick proposed raising spending on K-12 education by $164 million. The House is upping that figure by $18.5 million.