Budget Compromise, Trafficking Bill On The Docket

By Sarah Birnbaum

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May 31, 2011

BOSTON — This week on Beacon Hill, the budget proposals for the upcoming fiscal year head to conference committee, lawmakers take up a human-trafficking bill, and University of Massachusetts trustees discuss potential fee hikes. 

A six-member conference committee will iron out a compromise between the spending plans passed by the House and the SenateBoth versions would make deep cuts to Medicaid. They would slash state aid to cities and towns by $65 million. Both bills would also weaken municipal employees' ability to bargain over health care benefits.

On Wednesday, the UMass Board of Trustees meets to consider fee hikes. Student fees could go up by as much as 8 percent —  or almost $900 hundred next year. The meeting comes as renewal of a contract for UMass Amherst Chancellor Holub's tenure has been called into question.

Also this week, the House debates Attorney General Martha Coakley's bill to help combat human trafficking in the state. The proposal would make human trafficking a felony, and it would give prosecutors more tools to go after pimps and people who solicit prostitutes. Massachusetts is only one of five state without a human trafficking law on the books.

And this weekend, state Democrats gather in Lowell for their annual convention. They'll hear short speeches from the candidates who intend to challenge U.S. Senator Scott Brown. Political observers say that Democratic officials aren't satisfied yet with the field of candidates, and they're still looking for a big name contender to take on the G.O.P.

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