Mass. Senate passes $36.4 billion budget

BOSTON (WWLP) – It has been a long couple days for the Massachusetts Senate as they hammered through nearly 1,000 amendments to their version of the Fiscal 2015 Budget. Part of their $36.4 billion spending plan would help some of the state’s 40,000 kids in low-income families enroll in early education.

“We’ve appropriated enough money in the Senate budget to take 3,000 children off that waiting list, so we’re making progress, but way too slowly,” said Senate Majority Leader Stanley Rosenberg.

With the closure of North Adams Regional Hospital and under-staffing issues at Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton, health care has taken a huge hit in western Massachusetts.

The Senate budget calls for $34 million to fund hospitals with more low-income patients, an effort that they believe will prevent hospitals from closing.

“When a hospital takes on losses year after year, they run the risk of closing, and when that happens what are patients going to do, so this money will help keep the doors open, but more importantly it’ll keep patients healthy and well,” said Don Siriani, Legislative Director to Senator Don Humason of Westfield.

The budget also tackles the statewide drug epidemic, funnels more money into the University of Massachusetts system and has record-high local aid funding.

Next, a six-member committee from the House and Senate will settle differences between the two versions. A final budget will be sent to the Governor’s desk after final approval from the House and Senate.

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