Leaders of the Massachusetts State Senate unveiled their version of the new state budget Wednesday. The new budget proposal calls for $1.5 billion less in spending than the current year's budget and would require negotiations with municipal unions over health care.
The Senate plan includes no new taxes and dips into the state’s one-time savings accounts for $440 million. Like the House and governor’s budgets, the Senate plan makes deep cuts to the state’s Medicaid program. It cuts $65 million in aid to cities and towns, while revamping the way municipalities provide health care to workers.
The Senate plan includes no new taxes and dips into the state’s one-time savings accounts for $440 million.
Last month, unions expressed outrage to the House-passed budget, which allows municipal health care changes without requiring collective bargaining. The Senate plan requires unions and community managers to negotiate for 30 days, with a review panel looking at the details of the changes.
Senate Ways and Means Committee Chairman Stephen Brewer said the proposal is a fair compromise.
"This plan — and hear me clearly — provides municipal employees with a voice, but not a veto," Brewer said. "This process laid out in this budget will provide real savings quickly."
Brewer estimates this could save communities $100 million a year. Union leaders are taking some time to review the details of the Senate plan before responding.
According to Brewer, the budget plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1 spends slightly less than proposals from the House and Gov. Deval Patrick.
Brewer said the Senate plan protects key services like adult day care, veteran’s services, domestic violence programs and early intervention programs for disabled children.
WBUR's Steve Brown and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
This program aired on May 19, 2011.