Senator Ross Votes to Pass FY13 Budget
Senator Richard Ross (R-Wrentham) supports the budget for FY 2013l
Senator Richard Ross (R-Wrentham) voted last week to pass a $32.45 billion budget for fiscal year 2013.
The Senate spending plan institutes no new taxes, but relies on a combination of ongoing revenue initiatives, one-time resources and spending reductions to close a $1.4 billion budget gap. Due to the Senate’s fiscal conservancy, this budget increases spending from Fiscal Year 2012, restores several difficult cuts from previous years, and makes new targeted investments.
Senator Ross was thrilled to see the Senate pass one of his amendments which provides veterans with free or reduced admission to public forests and beaches in the Commonwealth.
The amendment also requires that prior to implementing this plan, the Department of Conservation and Recreation must report on the impacts that the plan would have, assessing the cost implications stemming from it.
“I am thrilled to see this legislation, which I have been fighting for over the past five years, finally pass,” said Senator Ross. “I believe that after serving their country so courageously, our brave veterans deserve to be able to partake in the beautiful offerings of the country that they serve and protect. This amendment allows us to show our appreciation to our veterans here in the Commonwealth.”
The Senate adopted several amendments co-sponsored by Senator Ross, including an additional $1 million in funding for METCO. The budget also includes a provision, supported by Senator Ross that includes funding to maintain 72 beds at Taunton State Hospital, an increase of 27 beds from the original Senate Ways and Means Committee proposal, until a study of public and private behavioral health services is completed.
Senator Ross was pleased to see several amendments filed by the Republican Caucus included in the Senate Budget. The adopted proposals address such major issues as EBT card abuse, the excessive cost of reporting requirements imposed on local school districts and preventing those not present in the United States legally from obtaining rights or benefits that are reserved for those who are.
The Senate unanimously passed an amendment, co-sponsored by Senator Ross, which closes a significant drunk-driving loophole exposed by a recent Supreme Judicial Court ruling.
The language would enhance penalties for repeat drunk drivers and ensure that individuals who are convicted, had a case continued without a finding after an admission to sufficient facts for a finding of guilty, orwho is assigned to an alcohol or controlled substance education, treatment or rehabilitation program would be subject to penalties for repeat driving offenses.
The Senate Budget increases funding for local aid by $275.4 million over FY12 projected spending, including $900 million for unrestricted local aid. Chapter 70 funding is increased to $4.17 billion, ensuring that all school districts receive at least an additional $40 per pupil in aid. Regional School Transportation is also increased by $2 million over the Senate Ways and Means Committee’s proposed $45.52 million.
Additionally, the Senate fully funds the state’s obligation for Special Education Circuit Breaker at $242.2 million for the first time since FY08, providing students with special needs with the services and education they deserve. T
he Town of Norfolk also received $222,011 in prison mitigation funds.
The legislature will now appoint a six member conference committee to work out the differences between the House and Senate versions of the budget before sending it to the Governor for his final approbation.