Budget hearings will take lawmakers around Mass. in February

Printed from: http://newbostonpost.com/2016/02/01/budget-hearings-will-take-lawmakers-around-mass-in-february/

Gov. Charlie Baker’s $39.55 billion budget proposal was filed Wednesday and a hearing schedule on the spending plan emerged late Friday. It will take lawmakers From Boston to Amherst, Methuen, Springfield, Medford, and Everett and back to Boston again.

Hearings begin Tuesday at the State House where Baker’s budget team will outline the governor’s proposal and take questions from members of the House and Senate Ways and Means committees. Constitutional officers and the inspector general are also on the agenda Tuesday.

A Monday, Feb. 8 hearing is planned at UMass Amherst on energy, environmental and transportation spending and issues, followed by a Tuesday, Feb 9 hearing at Methuen High School on housing and economic development spending, including labor and workforce development, libraries, and Massachusetts Cultural Council spending.

The first of two hearings on health and human services accounts is planned for Tuesday, Feb. 16 at Springfield Technical Community College. Lawmakers will focus on the Department of Children and Families; the Department of Youth Services; the Department Transitional Assistance; the Mass. Rehabilitation Commission, the Mass Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, the Mass. Commission for the Blind, and the state Office of Refugees and Immigrants.

The second HHS hearing is Monday, Feb. 22 at Medford City Hall. This hearing will explore the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, the Office of Medicaid, the Department of Public Health; the Department of Mental Health; the Center for Health Information and Analysis; the Office of Elder Affairs; the Office of Veterans Affairs, and Soldiers Homes.

A hearing is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 23 at a yet-to-be-determined location on spending accounts in the judiciary, public safety agencies, district attorneys and sheriffs, the State Ethics Commission, the Office of Campaign and Political Finance, the Committee for Public Counsel Services, the Mass. Legal Assistance Corporation, the Mass. Commission Against Discrimination; Victim and Witness Assistance, and the Disabled Persons Protection Commission.

A Monday, Feb. 29 hearing in the Everett High School Library will focus on education and local aid accounts, a point of focus this week for some senators who say Baker has not adequately funded education accounts.

The final hearing, on Friday, March 4 at the State House, will allow the general public to advise lawmakers about their priorities. The House typically unveils and debates its budget bill in April, followed by the Senate in May, with a consensus budget due by July 1.

The hearings are scheduled to begin at 10 a.m.

— Written by Michael Norton

Copyright State House News Service

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