Budget increases local aid to western Massachusetts communities

Budget includes more than $1 billion in local aid

BOSTON (WWLP) – Western Massachusetts cities and towns will see an increase in funding for education and local aid in this year’s state budget.

Governor Charlie Baker approved a $39.4 billion budget Monday for this fiscal year. Budget writers adjusted revenue figures by more than $700 million to account for state tax collections coming in below expectations.

“These measures solidify our state’s fiscal condition, allow us to make critical investments and protect taxpayer dollars,” said Secretary Kristen Lepore of the Executive Office for Administration and Finance.

The budget signed by the governor includes more than $1 billion in local aid this year, increasing funding to cities and towns by about $40 million. Chicopee will be getting $11.5 million, Holyoke about $10 million and Springfield nearly $38 million in unrestricted government aid.

But the budget came with several spending cuts. Governor Baker reduced state spending to account for slow revenue growth, but one lawmaker told 22News cutting programs that are vital to western Massachusetts communities is not the way to balance the budget.

“We know that times are tough but these are programs that work, programs that help our families and that help people move out of poverty,” said State Rep. Aaron Vega, (D) Holyoke. “I think that we’re at a time where he’s making cuts that need to be pulled back and we can readdress them as we go forward.”

The governor reduced funding for early education and care, programs that western Massachusetts residents rely on, including Reach Out and Read, an early literacy nonprofit organization. Homework House in Holyoke also had funding cut to their program that provides tutoring and mentoring for at-risk children.

Although the governor made votes to several budget line items, the legislature can override those vetoes and choose whether to adopt the governor’s amendments.