Democratic leaders in the House release FY15 budget proposal

BOSTON (WWLP) - The  state’s House Ways and Means Committee released their state budget proposal today.

Many will be glad to know the House Ways and Means Committee’s spending plan won’t call for new tax hikes, but they do plan to spend billions on local aid, subsidized health insurance and to combat the state’s drug epidemic.

Democratic leaders in the House plan to spend $36.182 billion in fiscal 2015, almost $191 million short of the Governor’s proposal in January. More than one-third of the budget would go towards MassHealth, the state’s version of Medicaid. Funding for cities and towns are also priority.

“Then you look at, what are the needs we want to meet this year. Well clearly local aid. We made a commitment as a part of the resolution to increase local aid,” said House Ways and Means Chair Brian Dempsey.

Both the House and Senate agreed to spend $125 million  for school aid and state funding for cities and towns. The recent surge of opioid and heroin-related deaths across the Massachusetts also took center stage.

“We need to send a strong message that we need to make some targeted investments relative to, you know, making sure there’s prevention and some education that goes along with this because, I mean, this epidemic could continue to spiral out of control,” said Springfield Democrat Angelo Puppolo.

The House Budget Committee wants to spend $6.3 million towards preventing drug abuse and treating those struggling with the problem.

Lawmakers in the House have until Friday to file changes to the budget. The full House will vote on the spending plan on April 28th.

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