BOSTON – Gov. Deval L. Patrick signed the $33.6 billion fiscal 2014 Massachusetts budget this month, stating that the package makes “significant investments” in education, health care cost containment and youth-violence prevention.
According to a news release, the budget increases Chapter 70 education funding by $130 million over fiscal 2013 to $4.3 billion, bringing funding for Chapter 70 aid to the highest level in state history. The budget also includes a $97 million investment in the commonwealth’s public universities and colleges, moving the state towards funding 50 percent of public higher education costs within the University of Massachusetts system, a move that would avoid tuition and fee increases in the coming year.
The budget also includes several measures at helping businesses. They include:
• $19.5 million for the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center to provide research grants and accelerator loans to researchers and early state companies and support workforce-development efforts in the life sciences.
• $18.75 million for MassDevelopment’s Advanced Manufacturing Futures Program, created in the 2012 Jobs Bill, to engage in small-to-medium-enterprise lending, drive workforce development and provide competitive grants and contracts to facilitate growth and competitiveness in manufacturing.
• $2 million for Workforce Development Grants to help job seekers gain the skills needed for today’s manufacturing jobs.
• $2 million for the Mass Manufacturing Extension Partnership.
According to the release, the budget also reflects Patrick’s efforts to reduce the state’s reliance on one-time budget solutions, positioning Massachusetts to have one of the nation’s largest reserve-fund balances. •