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Steep cuts in Patrick's budget plan

Posted January 27, 2011 10:21 AM

Two state prisons would close. Nine hundred jobs would be eliminated across state government. Space to treat 160 mentally ill patients would disappear.

Everybody would be hit, at least a little. A bottle of Gatorade would cost a nickel more, and drivers would pay an additional $2.50 on their annual car insurance bills.

Governor Deval Patrick proposed dozens of deep cuts, a few new fees, and some one-time fixes yesterday, as part of what he called a painful but ambitious plan to close a projected $1.2 billion budget gap and help to reinvent Massachusetts government.

The governor said his $30.5 billion blueprint for the budget year that begins in July would cut overall spending by 1.8 percent, or $570 million, the largest year-to-year cut in the state budget in 20 years.

“It reflects many difficult and, in some cases, painful choices,’’ he said. “But we are making those choices to support our priorities — job creation, health care cost control, better schools, and reduced youth violence — priorities I know will make a stronger Commonwealth for all of us.’’

In laying out the first spending plan of his second term, the governor argued that he was doing more than just making cuts to balance the books. His proposal calls for a series of tradeoffs, reinventions, and redistributions, to steer money toward programs that reflect his priorities and find new ways to handle criminals and finance health care.

In perhaps his most ambitious goal, the governor said he could save $1 billion by changing how the state pays for health care for the poor, proposing that contracts with providers be changed to encourage them to work together to drive down costs. Independent analysts said the initiative was laudable but would at most save half that amount.

Read the rest of Michael Levenson's story here.

See winners and losers in Gov. Patric's Budget proposal.

Brookline selectmen vote to hike property taxes

Posted December 9, 2009 05:49 PM

Property taxes will increase by about $301 for most single family homeowners in Brookline after selectmen set a new tax rate Tuesday.

The board voted to increase the residential tax rate from 10.69 to 10.98, which would increase the property taxes by $301 for a single-family homeowner in Brookline who qualifies for the town’s owner occupancy residential exemption.

Gary McCabe, chief assessor for Brookline, said 87 percent of single family homeowners in Brookline qualify for the exemption.

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65 Mass. communities adopt local meals tax

Posted December 6, 2009 09:34 AM

More cities and towns in Massachusetts have chosen to apply a local-option tax on restaurant meals, the Associated Press reports.

According to the state Department of Revenue, 34 communities filed paperwork to begin imposing the 0.75 percent meals tax as of Jan. 1. That is in addition to the 31 cities and towns where the tax went into effect Oct. 1, the AP reported.

Still, fewer than 1 in 4 municipalities have opted for the tax, which was approved earlier this year by the Legislature to give local officials a new revenue option. The state’s three largest cities - Boston, Worcester, and Springfield - were among the first to adopt the local tax, which is added to the 6.25 percent state tax on restaurant meals.

In the suburbs, communities that approved the local option tax include Arlington, Andover, Lexington, and Brookline.

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