April 9, 2012
BOSTON — This week in Massachusetts politics, hundreds of immigrants and their advocates plan to rally at the State House, transportation officials are scheduled to testify on a bill transferring funds to the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority and the House of Representatives unveils its budget for fiscal year 2013, which begins July 1.
On Monday, hundreds of immigrants are set to rally at the State House as lawmakers craft budget proposals for the next fiscal year. About 500 immigrants will ask lawmakers not to pass any anti-immigration bills or amendments during budget debate. Organizers said they're concerned about efforts to force more employers to check whether potential hires are undocumented, and about a federal program called Secure Communities that aims to detect and deport illegal immigrants who have been arrested by local law enforcement. Scheduled to speak at the event are Elizabeth Warren, consumer advocate and Harvard professor, and Marisa DeFranco, Warren's rival for the Democratic Party nomination for U.S. Senate.
Also on Monday, lawmakers hold a public hearing on Gov. Deval Patrick's transportation bill, aimed at helping the cash-strapped MBTA. He's asking lawmakers to divert $51 million from a fund comprised of car inspection fees. The money is supposed to go to efforts to reduce air pollution. The bill would also stiffen fines on public transit fare evaders. The fine for a first-time offense would go from $15 to $75; a second offense would cost $200.
And on Wednesday, the state budget process moves forward. The Massachusetts House plans to unveil its version of the state budget for fiscal year 2013. Patrick proposed a $32.3 billion budget in January that would raise total state spending by less than 3 percent while cutting about 400 government jobs. Patrick's budget also calls for about $260 million in new revenues — but House Speaker Robert DeLeo has indicated he is opposed to any new taxes. Full House debate on the budget is scheduled for later in the month.