Apr. 29, 2011
BOSTON — The Massachusetts House of Representatives are sending a $30.5 billion spending bill to the Senate. So what's in it?
Some funds restored: Rank and file lawmakers restored some $70 million in funding that had been cut in committee, bringing the House proposal mostly in line with what the governor proposed back in January.
The bill partially restored funding to elderly services, disease prevention and environmental protection. The budget would also restore funds to a program that provides health insurance to some 20,000 legal immigrants.
Cuts, cuts, cuts: Despite some modest increases, the House budget plan remains one of the tightest in decades. It would make deep cuts to Medicaid, social services and state aid to cities and towns in order to make up for a $2 billion revenue shortfall.
Policy matters: The spending bill also contains some policy proposals. For instance, it would prohibit people from spending welfare money on alcohol, tobacco and lottery tickets. It would lift a 2008 ban on gifts to doctors from pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers.
And, perhaps most boldly of all, it would strip teachers, firefighters, and other local government workers of most of their collective bargaining rights on health care.
The budget now moves to the Senate. Final action isn’t expected until late June.