At midnight last night, the Massachusetts House passed its $32.4 billion state spending plan, completing consideration of nearly 900 amendments in just three days of debate.
The budget, which passed by a vote of 150-4, contains no new taxes, but seeks about $790 million in one-time revenues, including $400 million from the “Rainy Day” fund.
A number of provisions have garnered headlines over the three days. Here are a few of them:
EBT Reform. From the Boston Herald:
A tough-talking House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo put welfare cheats on notice last night, vowing to crack down on fraud, as the House approved strict tightening of the abused EBT card system and set up a potential showdown with Gov. Deval Patrick, a fierce defender of the program.
As State House News reported, EBT reform sparked heated debate last night and “laid bare a schism among the chamber’s Democrats” before it was ultimately passed, 122-33, with all “nay” votes coming from Democrats.
The provision, as the AP reports, “would add several items to the list of purchases that could not be made with the [welfare] cards, including firearms, cosmetics, professional services other than medical care, strip clubs, travel services, health clubs, tattoo parlors, jewelry, gambling, payment of restitution or bail, and gambling.”
Rep. Ruth Balser, one of the amendment’s critics, reportedly called it “anti-poor-person,” but supporters say it’s needed to root out welfare fraud.
Patrick, the AP reports, today “did not commit to signing the EBT changes, saying he would wait and see what emerges after the budget goes through the Senate.”