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Patrick Signs $32.5 Billion Mass. Budget, Announces Vetoes

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Gov. Deval Patrick (Photo courtesy: Scott Eisen/Governor's Office)

Gov. Deval Patrick (Photo courtesy: Scott Eisen/Governor’s Office)

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BOSTON (AP) — Gov. Deval Patrick signed into a law on Sunday a $32.5 billion state budget and also vetoed millions for several programs.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030′s Mark Katic reports.

The budget funds local aid at $5.3 billion, an increase of 3.7 percent over the previous year.

It also draws $350 million from a reserve fund, leaving it with a balance of at least $1.28 billion. Patrick said it’s still one of the largest such state balances in the United States.

Spending overall is up by about 4 percent, which the governor said is less than the assumed growth in state tax revenue collections.

Patrick said the spending plan helps students, reduces health care costs and strengthens public safety.

“It also responsibly holds the line on spending because we know our recovery is ongoing, not complete,” he said.

Patrick signed the budget nearly six months after he filed his initial spending proposal. House and Senate negotiators agreed last week on a final version.

The state has been operating under an interim budget while Patrick and top aides took the full 10 days to review the spending plan, which calls for no new taxes but withdraws $350 million from the state’s so-called rainy day fund.

Patrick also filed a supplemental plan setting aside about $20 million to support a popular sales tax holiday in August.

Among his vetoes totaling $32 million are $10 million for a human services salary reserve that Patrick proposes to instead use to support unfunded increases for human service providers and $10 million for the Probation Department. The governor proposes to bring probation spending “in line with realistic agency responsibilities and caseload levels.”

He also vetoed $5.1 million for the Department of Mental Health to continue to operate the Taunton State Psychiatric Hospital at 45 beds. He has proposed closing Taunton State.

And Patrick said $3.5 million for a reserve for school districts to request additional funding is unnecessary.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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