Debate on Mass. budget begins in House

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Massachusetts faces a fourth straight year of state budget cuts and for the first time in several years will have to make do without federal stimulus funds.

That was the sobering assessment Monday by House Ways and Means Committee chair Brian Dempsey. The House is expected to take several days debating a $30.4 billion spending plan for the fiscal year starting July 1.

Dempsey said state revenues are improving, but remain well below pre-recession levels.

Also Monday, the House voted 120-34 to defeat a Republican-backed proposal to roll back the state’s 5.3 percent income tax to 5 percent over three years.

Later this week, lawmakers are expected consider a plan allowing cities and towns to bypass collective bargaining for certain changes in public employee health insurance plans.

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