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$28B Budget Approved, Heads To Gov. Patrick01:09
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The new, nearly $28 billion state budget is headed to Gov. Deval Patrick after the House and Senate approved it late Thursday night.

Among other cuts, the budget trims local aid — by 4 percent — and health care benefits for immigrants.

Those cuts, said Sen. Steven Panagiatakos, are serious but necessary, given the economic climate.

"Anybody that either is a state employee, receives state services or is a nonprofit that depends on state subsidy will find it very difficult going into Fiscal Year 2011," Panagiatakos said.

Senate Republican leader Richard Tisei says lawmakers missed an opportunity to make big reforms that could have saved even more money.

"I know those are difficult things to do, people don't want to take difficult votes, but you know what, we have a difficult budget at this point and people are going to get hurt," Tisei said.

After reviewing the budget's provisions, many municipal leaders said they were disappointed it doesn't include so-called plan design authority over public employee health care policies.

"(We'd) like to have plan design authority," said Beverly Mayor William Scanlon, "so that they could alter co-pays and deductibles and control the rate of increase in the cost of the health care plans much the way the state has been able to do."

Scanlon says that power would allow cities and towns to save $100 million statewide. But municipal unions have to agree to changes in their health care plans. And while unions say are willing to do their part during tough times, so far they've been reluctant to trim plans.

While cities and towns are absorbing the budget's cuts, Lowell City Manager Bernard Lynch and other officials acknowledge the state's money problems aren't nearly as bad as in bigger states such as New York, Illinois or California.

"This budget itself, while a tough one, could have been worse for cities and town," Lynch said.

The budget now goes to Patrick.

Sonari Glinton for WBUR contributed to this report.

This program aired on June 25, 2010.

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