From John Nunnari –
HOUSE REJECTS GUV’S CALL FOR LOCAL AID CUT, INCLUDES $115 MIL IN BUDGET BILL: The House on Monday rejected Gov. Deval Patrick’s request for the power to make a 1 percent local aid cut and advanced legislation aimed at snapping this year’s budget back into balance. The House bill includes Patrick’s call to dip into the state’s rainy day fund for $200 million more to support spending in the $32.5 billion budget Patrick signed last summer but which fell out of balance due to overly optimistic tax revenue projections. Patrick last December ordered $225 million in unilateral midyear spending cuts and asked for the power to cut local aid, but lawmakers and municipal officials were cool to that idea. Under an order adopted Monday, House members have until noon Wednesday to file amendments to the supplemental budget, which authorizes $115 million in new expenditures even as it attempts to rein in spending with provisions requiring 1 percent midyear spending cuts in legislative and public higher education accounts, for example. The bill includes $30 million in spending authorizations in connection with the widespread government reaction to an evidence tampering scandal at a state drug testing lab. A committee aide said Monday that House Ways and Means does not prepare summaries of bills that do not originate in that committee – the House bill is based on one filed by Patrick (H 43). Rep. Martha Walz (D-Boston), assistant vice-chair of Ways and Means last session, declined to comment Monday on the supplemental budget bill. 11:54 a.m.