BOSTON — Gov. Deval Patrick on Wednesday unveiled a $34.8 billion state budget proposal. After years of program contractions, the plan relies on tax and fee increases to achieve what the governor calls a “growth” budget.
Patrick’s budget plan for Fiscal Year 2014, which begins July 1, would raise state spending by 6.9 percent. Education spending at all levels would go up by more than half a billion dollars. Transportation would add another billion dollars.
“This is a plan to grow jobs,” Patrick said. “The plan makes investments in education and innovation and in infrastructure, to grow opportunity in the near term and to strengthen our commonwealth in the long term.”
To pay for his vision, Patrick would increase income taxes and transit fees. And while he would reduce the sales tax, he would expand its reach to include candy and soda. Another sin he would tax? Tobacco. The state tax on cigarettes would rise by $1 to $3.51 a pack.
Patrick insists Massachusetts residents and businesses are ready to invest. He suggested asking MBTA riders who were stranded by a Green Line breakdown Wednesday morning.
“I reject the notion of this self-defeating strategy of not shaping our future,” he said. “Doing nothing is also a choice.”
Democrats in the Legislature have been interested, but wary, as Patrick has unrolled his plans over the last week. Republicans lawmakers are growing hostile.
“Part of the problem is that this budget is starting to take on, it’s a bit of a shell game,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr. “My sense is the Legislature is going to move on to its own proposals, and not spend a lot of time trying to sort out the entanglements of this budget.”
And even Patrick acknowledges that the final budget that is passed this year will look quite different from his proposal.
This post was updated with the All Things Considered feature version.