John Tlumacki/Globe Staff
Governor Deval Patrick today unveiled a $28.2 billion budget proposal for the next fiscal year, saying that despite economic challenges the state must continue to build on the progress it has made in the past several years.
The budget represents a 3 percent increase over estimated spending for the current fiscal year, based on a 3.2 percent increase expected in revenues.
"This budget reflects our collective values and makes investments in critical areas that will help us strengthen our economy in the near-term and position us for growth and prosperity over the long-term," Patrick said in his budget message, which was posted on his state website.
Noting that he had made tough choices in preparing the budget, the governor's office said Patrick had recommended nearly $800 million in cuts, including: a $56 million cut to adult dental services covered by MassHealth; a $9 million cut in the Department of Transitional Assistance Employment Services program; a $5 million cut in the Quinn Bill program; a $1.5 million reduction to one-stop career centers; and a $3.2 million reduction to state parks.
The budget also includes cuts to social service and youth violence prevention programs, advocates said.
In the budget message, Patrick emphasized that he had spared from budget cuts aid to local schools and to cities and towns. He said he had also maintained the state's commitment to support the health care reform law that has brought health insurance to 97 percent of the state's residents.
Patrick said the education and health care investments were part of a strategy "to create jobs, speed economic recovery and promote long-term prosperity for the Commonwealth."
Patrick said his budget would also include the next phase of reform in the state's pension system, a reorganization of the parole and probation departments, as well as a "more coordinated approach to purchasing energy for state government and additional budget reforms to promote sound fiscal practices and transparency."
"Our fiscal year 2011 budget blueprint reflects the simple notion that we must continue moving forward. No matter how challenging the economic climate, we cannot afford to retreat from the important progress we have made over the last several years," he said.
Patrick administration officials say that, during his administration, the state budget has increased 0.6 percent a year, compared with an average growth rate of 4.6 percent in the preceding 16 years.
Patrick is announcing the details of his spending plan, which covers the fiscal year that stretches from July 1 to June 30, 2011, at a news conference at this hour at the State House.
The announcement of the governor's budget is just the first step in the budget dance. The House and Senate will produce their own versions of the budget and agree on a compromise version before sending a final bill to the governor's desk.
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