BOSTON — Money for food pantries, police, community centers and support for seniors and at-risk youths are among local earmarks added to a $47.6 billion House budget.
Lawmakers from the North Shore and Merrimack Valley filed dozens of requests to buoy pandemic-battered communities and for pet projects and initiatives as debate on the spending package got underway Monday.
Rep. Jim Kelcourse, R-Amesbury, requested about $340,000 for sand dune restoration in Salisbury and Newburyport, and efforts to prevent erosion in coastal neighborhoods he represents.
Rep. Brad Hill, R-Ipswich, sought $400,000 in state funding for public safety improvements in Rowley, Ipswich, Topsfield and Wenham.
Rep. Linda Campbell, D-Methuen, teamed up with Reps. Tram Nguyen, D-Andover; Andy Vargas, D-Haverhill; and Christina Minicucci, D-North Andover; to seek $250,000 for the Greater Lawrence Family Health Center for its advanced practice nursing residency program.
Rep. Frank Moran, D-Lawrence, asked for $100,000 for the Andover Senior Center and $50,000 for Casa Dominicana, a community center in Lawrence.
And Rep. Paul Tucker, D-Salem, asked for $50,000 for the Salem Council on Aging to improve its Memory Café program.
Overall, House lawmakers filed nearly 1,200 amendments to the budget. Only a handful will likely make it into the final spending plan.
The House budget calls for increasing state spending by 2.6% next fiscal year, or $1.8 million more than Gov. Charlie Baker's preliminary budget filed in January.
The House plan does not include any broad-based taxes or major changes to the state's tax code. It also doesn't count on $4.5 billion in federal aid coming to Massachusetts from the latest relief package passed by Congress.
State aid to communities, used for everything from closing local budget gaps to fixing sidewalks, would increase by $39.5 million to more than $1.16 billion.
Education aid would increase by $219 million to more than $5.5 billion.
The plan also would also create a $40 million reserve fund to help stabilize school districts affected by pandemic-related enrollment drops.
Budget writers have been encouraged by a recent uptick in state tax collections, which has offset some of the losses incurred during the pandemic.
But House Speaker Ron Mariano, D-Quincy, has warned the state is still more than $1 billion behind forecast revenues.
The Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation said its analysis of the budget found nearly 1,000 amendments that would increase the plan's cost by more than $1 billion.
Once the House has wrapped up its work on the budget, the spending package moves to the Senate for consideration.
The new fiscal year begins July 1.
Christian M. Wade covers the Massachusetts Statehouse for North of Boston Media Group’s newspapers and websites.