Budget-writers in the state Senate are proposing to spend more on local aid than the funding level approved by the House in April.
State House News Service reports that the $32.3 billion spending plan released by the Senate Ways and Means Committee Wednesday includes $900 million in unrestricted local aid.
According to SHNS, Senate President Therese Murray told WBZ-AM that the increase in local aid should be able prevent municipal layoffs.
In an interview with WBUR's Delores Handy, Geoff Beckwith, executive director of the Massachusetts Municipal Association, praised the spending plan for its local aid level.
"Combined with what the House has passed earlier — which was a very, very strong budget for cities and towns — the Senate is certainly embracing communities too, and so we look forward to this being a good year for localities in terms of local aid and in terms of a partnership with the state," he said.
The spending plan for the fiscal year beginning July 1 would increase spending by 3.7 percent over current levels. The plan would not call for any new taxes or fees, but would close a projected $1.4 billion budget gap with one-time revenues and a $290 million withdrawal from the state's Rainy Day Fund, according to the Associated Press.
In its $32.4 billion spending plan, the House similarly does not raise taxes, but calls for a $400 million withdrawal from the Rainy Day Fund.
According to SHNS, the Senate spending plan would also keep 45 beds at Taunton State Hospital for people with mental illnesses. The House had agreed with a proposal put forth by Gov. Deval Patrick to close the hospital.
According to the AP, the Senate budget also would create a special police unit to investigate welfare fraud. As we reported last month, welfare reform sparked heated debate in the House between the chamber's Democrats.
The full Senate plans to debate the spending plan next week.
This program aired on May 16, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.