Mass. lawmakers approve $27.4 billion state budget

Associated Press | 6/24/2009, 5:04 a.m.

“When the economy comes back — and it will — it’s going to go down again, and we’re going to need that money,” Murphy told his colleagues.

AFL-CIO of Massachusetts President Bob Haynes said the budget “disproportionately hurts” working people and the most vulnerable by slashing safety net programs.

The Massachusetts Package Stores Association said it was “deeply disappointed” by the decision to eliminate the exemption for alcohol from the sales tax.

In other areas, the budget:

• Dramatically reduces “Quinn Bill” pay for police officers who earn associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees. The state had been financing the $50 million tab, but it is cutting its payment to $10 million and ending the benefit for new officers. Cities and towns may have to pick up the difference, depending on whether their union contracts require the payment.

• Eliminated $3 million in funding for the Commonwealth Corps volunteer program started by Patrick, one sign of tension between the executive and legislative branches.

• Eliminated $450,000 in funding for the state’s Washington, D.C., office. Patrick had argued the office helped him maintain contact on pivotal issues, but critics questioned the need given his close relationship with President Barack Obama, a fellow Democrat, as well as Democratic control of Congress and an all-Democratic state congressional delegation.

• Allows Massachusetts to participate in the multistate Powerball lottery game.

• Raises health care contributions for state employees 5 percent. The existing payment varies from 15 percent to 20 percent, depending on the date of hire.

(Associated Press)