• House panel calls for $33.8B Mass. budget


    BOSTON (AP) - A House panel has unveiled a state budget that calls for about $1 billion less in total spending than proposed by Gov. Deval Patrick.

    The $33.8 billion plan announced Wednesday by the House Ways and Means Committee would increase spending by nearly 3.9 percent over current levels. Patrick had sought a 6.9 percent increase.

    The difference reflects the Legislature's earlier rejection of Patrick's $1.9 billion tax plan that would have included an income tax hike.

    The panel's chairman, Rep. Brian Dempsey, calls the spending plan "well balanced and fiscally prudent."

    The budget calls for substantial increases for higher education, including $39 million more for the University of Massachusetts. But it does not provide for an increase sought by Patrick in early childhood education.

    The House budget would take $350 million from the state's "rainy day fund."

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