Lowell Sun: House adds $27 million to budget

BOSTON — House lawmakers tacked on close to $27 million in additional spending for education and local aid on the first night of debate on a $33.8 billion fiscal 2014 budget Monday, engaging in sporadic debate, including a fiery back-and-forth over in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants.

Rep. Alice Peisch, the co-chair of the Committee on Education, said the boost in education and local aid spending added money to the Metco, Head Start, libraries, YouthBuild and universal pre-kindergarten programs, as well as $5.3 million in additional Chapter 70 spending for some districts well below their so-called foundation levels.

The House also adopted a bundle of amendments relating to the state’s six constitutional officers and state administration issues that added $851,000 to the budget’s bottom line, boosting funding for the Secretary of State to administer elections and for the Office of Campaign and Police Finance.

When the House returns on Tuesday at 10 a.m., amendment relating to housing and social services are expected to be on tap first, including those dealing with welfare programs and the administration of electronic benefits transfer cards. House Democrats who wrote the budget bill have proposed requiring photo IDs on EBT cards to prevent trafficking of public assistance benefits, but some members would like to see further reforms.

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