Massachusetts Gov. William F. Weld signed into law on Monday the state's $14.18 billion budget for fiscal year 1993.
The state has been running on a temporary budget since the previous fiscal year ended at midnight, June 30.
Dominic Slowey, Gov. Weld's fiscal affairs spokesman, said yesterday this is the third consecutive year the state will have balanced its budget without new taxes or deficit borrowing.
Since Massachusetts grants the governor line-item veto power, Gov. Weld was able to cut approximately $315 million to achieve balance.
For the fourth time in more than three years, the governor was able to lower state residents' tax burden. This fiscal year, Gov. Weld began a phaseout of the estate tax.
According to Mr. Slowey, the governor was adamant about removing the estate tax because it was driving the elderly out of Massachusetts, thus causing the state to lose the taxes they pay.
Although Gov. Weld is a Republican, the budget was applauded by both parties in the legislature.
State Senate Majority Leader William M. Bulger, D-Suffolk, said that although there may be a few overrides of vetoes, the budget looks to be a "responsible document."
Among the vetoed proposals were a transfer of the Department of Youth Services to the Executive Office of Public Safety, the creation of a middle-income student loan program that would have replicated one at the national level, and a funding program for kindergarten through 12th grade education.
"Basically, what the K through 12 provision did was set up a $186 million local aid fund for the schools." Sen. Bulger said. "The governor stated that if there was no corresponding education reforms included with the funding he would veto it. And he did just that."
"We proposed a package of education reforms to the legislature designed to cure some of the ills of the system, and they did nothing with it," Mr. Slowey said. "We want a change in the core curriculum requiring four years of math and science and a renewed emphasis on history."
Another part of the proposal would eliminate tenure for teachers. Mr. Slowey said the proposal has been supported by community leaders throughout the state, but uniformly condemned by the state and federal teachers unions.
Sen. Bulger said the school funding veto could be overridden.
Another portion of the budget the governor vetoed was a provision easing the way for two financially strapped hospitals in Lowell to merge. The legislation was designed to forgive St. John's Hospital for over $6 million in Medicaid payments.
Rep. Edward A. LeLacheur, D-Lowell, said one reason the provision may have been vetoed was that the governor is hesitant to begin forgiving moneys owed to the state.
Rep. LeLacheur said he was uncertain about the consequences of the veto and the likelihood of an override.
House Minority Leader Peter Forman, R-Plymouth, said that if the legislature is able to control spending during this fiscal year, the state should be able to continue to produce balanced budgets.
"When Gov. Weld walked into his office, I don't think anyone expected he could produce one balanced budget," Rep. Forman said. "We don't return to session until next week, and I think by then we'll have a better idea how the specific overrides will affect our jurisdictions."
New provisions making their way into this year's budget include: a $70 million increase in state-sponsored funding of the higher education system, a $2 million increase for battered women's services, $37 million for short-term bridge and road repairs, and a $104 million Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children Act.
"Clearly we have started a new trend in Massachusetts finance, and have broken the cycle that led us to the brink of bankruptcy," Gov. Weld said at the signing ceremony.
Karen Serieka, spokeswoman for state Treasurer Joseph D. Malone, said the treasurer was very excited about the budget.
"The current budget is a testimony to the fiscal responsibility shown by the governor," Ms. Serieka said." It is a positive step toward the implementation of 21st century fiscally responsible government."