Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick today released his FY 2014 budget proposal. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports that the Governor is planning to invest in three key areas: education, innovation, and infrastructure.
Governor Patrick’s $34.8 billion budget proposal follows his State of the Commonwealth speech last week where he called for more investment in transportation including streamlining public transportation and improving roads and bridges, as well as a significant boost to education spending.
The Governor is seeking to invest 6.79 billion into education. His plan includes expanding access to early education programs to children in low income families, to extend learning times in middle schools, to help students and families pay for college by extending the MassGrants program, and by further supporting community colleges.
In order to assist public school districts supply students and expand curriculum, the Governor also mentioned that he would increase Chapter 70 local aid…
The Governor is also seeking a $269M increase in transportation funding in order to eliminate the MBTA’s structural operating deficit, while expanding services, to reinvest in public transit at Regional Transit Authorities, and to begin a $13 billion Accelerated Transportation Program, which would include an additional $100M in Chapter 90 local aid for bridge and road repair. Also in his budget, the governor is asking that unrestricted local aid to be increased by 31M for FY2014.
To help pay for these increases, the Governor is seeking $1.2 billion in new revenues through adjustments in the tax code, including a 1% hike in the state’s income tax.
The Governor acknowledged the unpopularity of raising taxes in a time of economic recovery.
$75.5 million is also being sought to enhance innovation, including a $10M increase to the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center.
Governor Patrick also noted that the budget “depends on the pieces hanging together.” Other of seeking revenue include a projection of $83 in taxes paid by the expansion in casino gambling, $24 million from modernizing bottle redemption law to include bottled water and sports drinks, commonly referred to as the bottle bill. $26.2 will come from new sales tax being collected on sales from online retailer Amazon.com, and others.
The Governor said he will work closely with the legislature. The House and Senate will submit their own budget proposals this Spring.