"Where Would You Cut?"
Spending Increases, of Course!

"This budget maintains our commitment to fully-funding our communities at $2.9 billion for Chapter 70 education aid ...

"The administration signed $3.5 billion for K-12 education in FY 2000 budget, which amounted to an eight percent increase from the previous year....

"Since 1993, the Administration has invested more than $1.8 billion in new funding for Education Reform. Direct funding to cities and towns for education aid has increased by more than 117%. This investment has resulted in reduced class sizes, modernized classrooms, increased and improved professional development, and higher expectations for all of the Commonwealth's students."

House 1A
The Governor's Budget Recommendation
Fiscal Year 2001
Submitted: Jan. 26, 2000

When the Gimme Lobby asks "where would you cut?" remember, the answer is: The increases in spending!

Tomorrow the senate releases its version of next year's budget. Watch them propose spending even more!

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State House News Service
Monday, May 15, 2000

Senators Offer Biggest Ed Plan on the Hill
By Elisabeth J. Beardsley

STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, MAY 15, 2000 ... Senate leaders today rolled out an education budget that's $350 million bigger than last year's and that focuses on kindergarten and MCAS. The plan also puts the Upper Branch on a collision course with the House over controversial special education reforms.

Much of the Senate's spending plan was unveiled back in March, but at a press conference this afternoon at the newly constructed Beebe School in Malden -- site of the signing of the 1993 Education Reform Act -- senators revealed that they have considerably upped the fiscal ante.

The Senate education budget contains a $187.5 million increase over last year's spending on Chapter 70 aid, which amounts to direct local aid to communities for schools. The House and Gov. Paul Cellucci originally allotted $132 million in increases. The House, after floor debate, okayed $159 million.

"Education will play second fiddle to no other priority," said Senate Ways and Means Chairman Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford), who plans to announce new health care initiatives Tuesday. "We will make sacrifices because of that. It (the budget) will not be everything to all people."

Senate President Thomas Birmingham (D-Chelsea) acknowledged that $350 million -- including Chapter 70 and non-Chapter 70 education items -- is an "enormous number" that's "hard for ordinary people to get their arms around." He said the Senate proposal would give Malden $370,000 more than the governor's plan or the House's.

"We in the Senate are committed in every fiber of our collective body not to sleep, not to rest, until we have made the public schools of Massachusetts the best in the entire United States of America," Birmingham said....

The Boston Globe
Wednesday, May 16, 2000

On eve of budget plan, a Birmingham fund-raiser
By Frank Phillips and Michael Crowley
Globe Staff

Senate President Thomas F. Birmingham last night raked in tens of thousands of dollars from a host of lobbyists and their special-interest clients at a political fund-raiser that he threw just hours before he was to unveil the Senate's $21 billion budget plan.

Birmingham, who is planning to run for governor and already has about $1.1 million in his campaign account, collected the checks at a $200-per-person cocktail party at the Harvard Club in downtown Boston.

Today, Birmingham and his leadership team will present a state spending plan that is being keenly watched by the same special interests and others whose financial interests are affected by the state budget.

Holding fund-raisers during budget season is a powerful tactic frequently employed by legislative leaders. House Speaker Thomas M. Finneran held a fund-raiser last week at Anthony's Pier Four restaurant. The House completed its budget debate last month and will negotiate a final version with the Senate in the weeks ahead.

Birmingham and Finneran personally craft most aspects of the budget, from major policy issues to many smaller items and changes in law, far more than past legislative leaders.

Birmingham's fund-raiser provoked outcry from groups seeking campaign-finance reform.

"This is precisely the kind of business as usual that voters want cleaned up," said David Donnelly, director of Massachusetts Voters for Clean Elections. "A fund-raising event attended by lobbyists and interested parties for the Senate president on the eve of the Senate budget release appears to voters as a direct conflict of interest."

The Senate has already made public some policy changes contained in the budget. Yesterday, Senate leaders announced a proposed $130 million increase in health care spending for next year and offered changes to a sweeping House proposal to provide prescription drug subsidies to senior citizens.

Most of the new Senate money would go to improvements in nursing-home care and to health initiatives such as a 30 percent increase in the Medicaid reimbursement formula for dental services.

But the Senate is also devoting $25 million to fund the new prescription-drug insurance plan, which was drawn up by the Heinz Foundation with the help of legislative leaders.

The House has also approved a version of the plan, which would provide seniors and the disabled with insurance coverage against catastrophic prescription drug costs.

Senate Ways and Means chairman Mark Montigny said his budget plan would do more for the "most vulnerable" seniors. The proposal would lower premiums for seniors whose income is below the federal poverty line, adding $15 million to the House plan's $51 million.

Birmingham said the costs of the drug insurance program would be "sustaintable." But the Massachusetts Taxpayers Association [sic, Foundation] has warned that legislators are underestimating the program's potential costs, especially in future years.

NOTE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to:

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