BOSTON, July 9 (Reuters) - Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick on Sunday signed a $32.5 billion state budget for fiscal 2013 that boosted funds for education, including community colleges, and projected savings in health care costs.
The budget, for the year that started July 1, marked a move away from years of austerity. In fiscal 2012 Patrick slashed spending by $750 million, the biggest year-on-year cut in two decades.
The roughly 4 percent increase in the budget reflects a rate of growth less than the assumed 4.5 percent increase in state tax revenue collections for the year.
The second-term Democratic governor termed Massachusetts’ economic recovery “ongoing, not complete”.
The ratings agency Standard and Poor’s in 2011 upgraded the state’s credit rating to AA+, the highest rating in the state’s history. Proactive budget management was cited as a key factor.
Patrick said the higher rating has allowed the administration to continue investing in schools, roads, bridges and public facilities to accelerate a long-term recovery.
The budget assumes savings of about $700 million in health care costs through changes to payment and delivery models used by MassHealth, the state’s version of Medicaid, and “competitive procurement strategies” by the Health Connector Authority, the agency which oversees the state’s universal health care program.
Patrick signed a new program for $2.25 million in grants to community colleges, partly to establish worker training programs specifically requested by employers.
The budget also funds aid to communities in the state at $5.32 billion, up 3.7 percent on the year.