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Mass. Lawmakers Open Hearings on Patrick Budget

deval-patrick1BOSTON (AP) — Lawmakers are beginning their examination of Gov. Deval Patrick’s $34.8 billion state budget proposal, which includes nearly $2 billion in new revenues to boost transportation and education.

The House and Senate Ways and Means Committees will jointly hold the first public hearing on the spending plan on Thursday, with administration officials among those called to testify.

Patrick has proposed hiking the state income tax from 5.25 percent to 6.25 percent, while at the same time lowering the sales tax from 6.25 to 4.5 percent. He’s also called for higher taxes on cigarettes, candy and soda.

The governor says he’s open to alternative revenue proposals — but only if they provide enough money to modernize the state’s transportation network and enhance public education.

The budget also calls for a $400 million withdrawal from the states `rainy day fund.”