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Speaker DeLeo Says No To Local Aid Cut

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, right, and House Speaker Robert DeLeo address members of the media in 2009. (AP)
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, right, and House Speaker Robert DeLeo address members of the media in 2009. (AP)
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Speaker Robert DeLeo signaled he would reject Gov. Deval Patrick's proposal to cut local aid by $25.5 million, part of the governor's efforts to deal with a budget gap.

"Understanding the vital role cities and towns play in providing services and jobs, I will not support a reduction of unrestricted local aid," DeLeo said in a statement Thursday morning.

Patrick's plan to deal with the roughly $329 million projected shortfall includes a $10 million cut to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and $21.8 million from non-executive branch agencies, which would also require legislative approval.

DeLeo said he is reviewing other aspects of Patrick's plan.

"I am currently in discussions with the House Committee on Ways & Means, which is studying the fiscal situation, to review the remaining items," DeLeo said.

Patrick's proposal would bring local aid back to last year's level and the drop would arrive in the middle of the fiscal year for the 351 cities and towns that to varying degrees rely on the state funding to provide municipal services.

The Legislature adopted a local aid resolution last spring to give municipalities some early certainty about what they would be receiving in state funding. In 2013 the Legislature passed a tax bill aimed at boosting transportation spending.

Lawmakers are generally very supportive of local aid funding and Patrick's local aid reduction request, even without Thursday's objection from DeLeo, appeared to face long odds of passing.

The House on Thursday refered Patrick's budget-balancing bill to the House Ways and Means Committee, which is chaired by Haverhill Democrat and top DeLeo ally Rep. Brian Dempsey.

Colleen Quinn contributed reporting.

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