Massachusetts Senate passes $38 billion state budget plan for new fiscal year



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BOSTON — The Massachusetts Senate passed a $38 billion state budget early Friday that lawmakers say makes critical investments in local aid, education, economic development and services for vulnerable residents of the state.

The Senate version of the budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 will head to a six-member legislative committee that will hammer out differences from the House version. Republican Gov. Charlie Baker then can either sign it into law or veto parts or all of it.

"This final budget builds on the themes and investments of the Senate Ways and Means recommendations to lift all families and invest in our future," said Karen Spilka, D-Ashland, chairwoman of the Democrat-controlled Senate's Committee on Ways and Means.

The budget includes more than $4.5 billion for education aid and almost $1 billion in unrestricted aid for investments in public safety, health care, infrastructure and other expenses.

It also includes a $12.5 million increase for state universities and community colleges and an $18.8 million increase for the University of Massachusetts.

The Senate voted to freeze the state income tax rate at 5.15 percent while gradually increasing the earned income tax credit for low-income working families.

"The expansion of the earned income tax credit and our investments in workforce training, education and economic development in this budget will lift all working families across Massachusetts," said Senate President Stan Rosenberg, D-Amherst.

The state income tax was scheduled to decrease to 5.1 percent next year if certain triggers were met.

The Senate budget also contains money to attack the state's opioid abuse crisis, including $10 million to fund a range of treatment services, including detoxification, clinical stabilization, transitional support, residential services and outpatient treatment; $5 million for more than 150 new clinical stabilization beds; and a bulk-buying program that would allow municipalities to purchase the overdose-reversing drug Narcan at discounted rates.

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, R-Gloucester, tweeted that the budget "serves the Commonwealth well."

On Wednesday the Senate passed a measure aimed at guaranteeing no tax dollars are spent hosting the 2024 Olympics in Boston without approval of the Legislature first.

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