BOSTON (WWLP) - The Massachusetts House of Representatives approved a budget bill Wednesday evening that calls for $115 million dollars in new spending and withdraws $200 million dollars from the state's rainy day fund to offset a shortfall in tax revenues. Governor Deval Patrick proposed spending cuts to cities and towns to balance the budget, but lawmakers are not giving it their approval.
"People are concerned what those additional cuts could mean at the local level, whether it's the employment of police, fires, teachers, DPW workers, whatever it may be, so we felt that we wanted to keep them away from any further cuts," said House Speaker Robert DeLeo (D-Winthrop).
House lawmakers did, however, approve the governor's proposal to freeze unemployment insurance rates that businesses are required to pay.
"And the reason we do this is because …we understand the conditions they're under right now economically," said Rep. Cheryl Coakley-Rivera (D-Springfield).
Lawmakers also approved new spending that includes $30 million dollars to cover expenses related to the state drug lab scandal that has compromised tens of thousands of criminal cases. In the past two months, Massachusetts has benefited from higher than expected revenues, but lawmakers do not expect that to last.
"It's very encouraging that we're above, but we expect that April and June will not be as robust so we really have to wait and see what the rest of the numbers are," said Senate President Therese Murray (D-Plymouth).
The Senate will debate the budget bill next week.