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    Negotiators agree on $34 billion state budget

    Legislators take up bills Monday

    Agreeing to significantly higher spending on the state’s university system and new efforts to tamp down on fraud in the welfare system while discarding an expansion of the bottle deposit law, the group of lawmakers negotiating the annual state budget filed their $34 billion proposal on the eve of the new fiscal year, along with an accord on a midyear spending bill.

    The House and Senate are scheduled to take up the two conference committee reports during sessions Monday afternoon. If the budget bills are approved as expected, Governor Deval Patrick will have 10 days to consider the proposal and announce any amendments or vetoes before he signs it.

    A roughly $4.1 billion interim budget is in place to cover state spending during July while final details of the annual spending plan are worked out between Patrick and the Democrat-controlled Legislature.


    The budget was submitted about 8 p.m. Sunday, when the State House was mostly empty. Lawmakers missed the 8 p.m. deadline Friday, when both branches met in informal sessions, meaning the House and Senate will have to suspend their rules with a two-thirds vote to take the legislation up in formal sessions scheduled for Monday, according to the House clerk.

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    The $34 billion budget, up from the $32.5 billion fiscal 2013 budget, depends on new revenues from a gas tax hike, an application of the sales tax to certain computer software services, and increased tobacco taxes, which are part of a separate piece of legislation that Patrick has said he will amend to ensure the revenues in it would eventually add up to $800 million. The final budget also draws $350 million out of the state’s rainy day fund, according to an aide.

    The final budget includes $478.9 million for the University of Massachusetts, a proposed spending level that both the House and Patrick had included in their budgets, which will allow the university to prevent fee and tuition increases.

    Language the Senate had included that expanded the state’s 5-cent bottle deposit law to cover sports drinks, water, and coffee was scrapped from the final version submitted by the conference committee.

    The final budget retained language creating the Bureau of Program Integrity within the Department of Transitional Assistance, an oversight office that would be appointed by the inspector general and was included in the House version of the budget.


    A House proposal to require photo identification on electronic benefit transfer cards used to distribute welfare was included in the midyear spending bill. That bill also included $56 million to cover winter snow and ice removal, $18.2 million for the Committee for Public Counsel Services, and $100,000 in line-of-duty death benefits for the family of Sean Collier, who authorities say was killed by the two brothers suspected in the Boston Marathon bombings.

    Budget negotiations between the House and Senate began June 6, when the six-member bipartisan conference committee came together and closed their meetings to the public. The four Democrats on the conference committee signed the jacket on the conference report, while the two Republicans on the committee did not, according to the clerk’s office.

    According to the offices of the House and Senate Ways and Means chairmen , the budget includes a $6.2 million increase that will eliminate a 1,500-person waiting list for elder home care services, and increases funding for housing programs by $18.2 million, allowing for 1,000 new housing vouchers. The final budget sends $920.2 million to cities and towns in unrestricted local aid, a $21.2 million increase over fiscal 2013.

    Senator Michael Knapik, a Westfield Republican who was the Senate minority party’s negotiator on both the budget and the midyear spending bill, signed the conference report jacket on the midyear bill. That spending bill would also establish a plaque on the Charles River Esplanade for David Mugar, a philanthropist who helped create the Fourth of July fireworks and Boston Pops celebration along the river, and it includes $1.2 million to support the program of providing shelter to homeless families at hotels and motels.

    The budget was filed about four hours before midnight, July 1, when fiscal 2014 begins.


    “Through this budget, the Legislature recognizes the economic challenges facing the Commonwealth and its residents,” Brian Dempsey, the chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, said in a statement. The Haverhill Democrat was the lead negotiator for the House.

    “Moving away from the painful cuts of the past, this spending plan boosts spending for local aid and for some of our neediest residents including our youth and our elderly,’’ and will foster economic stability and strengthen many of the state’s current programs, Senate Ways and Means chairman Stephen Brewer, a Barre Democrat, said in a statement.