state budget

A report issued this week by a Massachusetts-based consumer protection organization finds state governments are making it easier for taxpayers to find out how their money is being spent. The Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group Education Fund looked at the content and ease-of-use of financial transparency websites – often called online checkbooks.

The  Massachusetts House Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday approved a $33.8 billion state budget that boosts spending on higher education and local aid.

The proposed budget is $ 1 billion less than what Governor Deval Patrick recommended. Committee vice-chair  Democrat Stephen Kulik of Worthington says the only new taxes are the ones approved by the full house earlier this week for transportation.

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ALBANY – Area state lawmakers are divided on increasing the minimum wage, a provision approved Thursday night in the 2013-14 budget.

Assemblyman James Skoufis (D, Town of Woodbury) supports the wage hike.

“Over three years we phase it in to $9 an hour, which is something I pushed strongly for and the Assembly pushes strongly for since I took office in January,” Skoufis said.

But, another freshman lawmaker from the Hudson Valley, Kieran Michael Lalor (R, Fishkill), has a different take on the issue.

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ALBANY – The just-adopted state budget includes funds to help redevelop the Beacon Correctional Facility, the women’s prison the governor targeted for closure.

A total of $6 million has been placed in the spending plan to aid in redevelopment of the property, said Assemblyman Frank Skartados (D, Milton), who represents Beacon.

“In the days and weeks ahead I am looking forward to be working with the Beacon officials as well as the Empire State Development Corporation to ensure that these funds are used to develop the facility to its fullest potential,” Skartados said.

  As the Massachusetts House is set to begin debate today on a proposed $32 billion state budget for the fiscal year that begins in July, anti poverty activists are decrying proposals they claim will erode the social safety net.  WAMC'S Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports.