Massachusetts House begins debate on $40 billion budget

State representatives filed more than 1,300 amendments to the budget

BOSTON (WWLP) – State lawmakers kicked off the week by convincing legislative leadership why their communities deserve more in state funding.

The State House is buzzing this week as state representatives, their staff and lobbyists gathered on Beacon Hill for the first day of budget debates. House lawmakers plan to spend $39.5 billion in the coming fiscal year without raising taxes.

22News asked Longmeadow State Representative Brian Ashe whether the debates will be done on the House floor, or behind closed doors. He said, “both. I mean, well you’ll see the ones on the House floor, but they’ll be debates behind closed doors as well when they try to work things out.”

The majority of new spending will cover the growing cost of health care, local aid to cities and towns, and pension obligations for public employees.

Western Massachusetts lawmakers filed amendments to support local programs: from combating homelessness, to ensuring that at-risk youth are employed throughout the summer. A push to decrease the state sales tax failed by a 112 to 42 vote. Critics argued that rolling back the sales tax would cost the state up to $1 billion dollars in revenue. Springfield State Representative Carlos Gonzalez told 22News debating the budget is all about compromise.

“I think politics is the art of negotiation, and coming from western Mass – yes, we have some challenges, but we have a dynamic team,” said Rep. Gonzalez.

The budget debate continues on Tuesday. 22News will continue to follow this story.

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