Gov unveils no-surprises $36.4B state budget

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Boston (WWLP) – Governor Deval Patrick unveiled a no-surprises $36.4 billion dollar state budget proposal Wednesday, the final spending plan of his term.  Unlike last year, the fiscal year 2015 budget was straight-forward, without any big tax proposals or new major spending programs.

“I think it’s tough for everybody this year, this budget is still tight, I think the next few budgets will continue to be tight,” said Patrick.

The budget reflects a roughly $2 billion dollar spending increase from the current year. Patrick said his budget maintains funding increases from his ambitious spending plan last year.  But budget critics say that won’t be enough to keep up with growing education, city and town costs.

“Without significant new tax revenue, you really can’t make the kinds of investments that would strengthen our economy in the long term,” said Massachusetts Budget & Policy Center President Noah Berger.

“If the state budget is going up five percent, why leave local aid behind? That’s a very good question that we believe is unanswered right now,” said Massachusetts Municipal Association Executive Director Geoff Beckwith.

Patrick proposed minor taxes on candy and soda.  Administration & Finance Secretary Glen Shor said the budget spends another record investment in public schools to the tune of $205 million dollars.

“Which is enabling us to move 1,700 kids off the wait lists for early education,” said Shor.

The budget makes similar investments in roads, public transportation, life sciences research and public safety.

$175 million dollars will be withdrawn from the state’s rainy day fund, but Secretary Shor said it will be returned to maintain a balance of over one billion dollars.

Last night, Governor Patrick cancelled his state of the Commonwealth address due to inclement weather. It has been re-scheduled to Tuesday at7:30pm.

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