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Budget Debate Moves to Mass. Senate

By STEVE LeBLANC, Associated Press

BOSTON (AP) — The Senate Ways and Means Committee has released a nearly $34 billion state budget proposal for the fiscal year starting July 1.

The plan represents a spending increase of $1.4 billion or about 4.4 percent over the current fiscal year, including $403 million in new spending on housing, education, mental health and veteran services programs.

The proposal also relies on $430 million in new revenues from a joint transportation proposal agreed to with the House last month.

The Senate plan also uses $350 million from the state’s rainy day fund. That would leave the fund with a balance of about $1.3 billion.

The House passed a $34 billion budget last month that increases total state spending 4 percent over current year levels.

Both legislative proposals are smaller than the 7 percent spending increase sought by Gov. Deval Patrick.

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