Patrick's Final Budget Targets Education, Transportation

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Gov. Deval Patrick presented his last budget in office on Wednesday. His state of the commonwealth address was canceled on Tuesday because of a snowstorm and rescheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 28.

BOSTON – Gov. Deval Patrick has filed a $36.374 billion fiscal 2015 budget that includes maintaining local aid at current levels and increases in education spending, including $100 million in Chapter 70 school funding.

The governor, in his final budget, is also calling for more than $140 million in transportation funding and bonding $12.4 billion for capital investments in public transit, highway, bridge and aeronautics programs over the next five years. There's also another $52 million to be invested across state government for climate preparedness.

The budget proposal use $175 million from state's Rainy Day Fund, half that of this year's budget, leaving the fund with a projected $1.2 billion balance. It would also use $334 million in one-time resources, an estimated $57 million in new taxes from candy and soda targeted to public health services and infrastructure and $40 million in taxes from closing a variety of loopholes.

The governor is also depending on some $20 million from the first casinos.

"This budget is a balanced, responsible budget that supports our growth strategy of investing in education, innovation and infrastructure to create jobs and opportunity in the near term and strengthen our commonwealth in the long term," said Patrick in a statement. "I am proud of the progress we have made by working together and governing for the long term over the past seven years. Let's continue this work, inspired by our shared commitment to leave to others a better commonwealth than we found. In that spirit, I look forward to working with the Legislature on this budget."

The 2015 spending plan has a 4.9 percent increase over this year, in line with projected tax revenue growth of 4.9 percent, said state officials.

"This budget invests in creating opportunity and shared prosperity throughout the commonwealth," said Secretary of Administration and Finance Glen Shor, in a statement. "The budget reflects the governor's continuing commitment to governing for the long term to leave a better commonwealth for future generations."

Most Berkshire towns would see level funding in aid, with some gaining a little extra in school funds. North Adams, for instance, would see about a $40,000 bump in Chapter 70 funds but local aid would remain at $3.84 million.

Budget Highlights

$204.9 million in increased education funding, including $15 million for early education programs, $3.1 million for kindergarten, $100 million in Chapter 70 (bringing it up to $4.4 billion) , $4.5 million to support expanded learning time for middle school students, $3.1 million for schools to engage in innovative approaches to improving student performance and $1.25 million in additional funding for Gateway Cities, and $1.1 billion in higher education

Job Creation
$140 million in transportation funding for highways and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, $12.4 billion in capital investments in public transit, highway, bridge and aeronautics programs over the next five years, and $25 million in surplus funds from this year for the Mass Life Sciences Center
Public safety
$2.1 million to support re-entry programming for the Department of Correction, incluidng appropriate addiction treatment; $16.5 million for youth initiatives, $9.2 million for the Department of Children and Families and $15 million to implement "Raise the Age" legislation signed by the governor in 2013 that changes juvenile jurisdiction laws to support the rehabilitation of young people through age 18.

Enhanced verification to prevent fraudulent eligibility claims estimated to save $20 million in FY15; better management of capital investments and cost savings for state buildings and in selecting, procuring and implementing information technology projects.

The full budget and the governor's press release can be found here.

Tags: fiscal 2015,   state budget,   state officials,   

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