The $36.2 billion budget passed by the House on Thursday attracted just two no votes, both from Repub-
licans, and triggered little in the way of public debate, according to the State House News Service. There were some wise budget increases passed and a couple of frustrating rejections, one of which has been routinely deep-sized for three decades.
Extra funding was found for the Department of Children and Families, whose well-documented problems will require a significant overhaul. The DCF budget has declined in recent years and a funding upgrade for technology and staff should help provide better protection for the children in the agency’s care. Additional money was found for global warming preparedness which states must invest in given the failure of governments worldwide to address climate change.
The House dropped the taxes on candy and soda proposed once again by Governor Deval Patrick in this, his last budget. This is inexplicable as those taxes on unnecessary and unhealthy purchases would raise much-needed revenue.
Once again failing to pass muster was an expansion of the bottle law, which rank-and-file lawmakers generally profess to support. The expansion of the law to include containers for water, juice and nonalcoholic, noncarbonated beverages would raise funds and decrease roadside litter, but because the deep-pocketed Massachusetts Food Association, beverage companies and chain supermarkets oppose the expansion it is thwarted annually. The bill now goes to the Senate, and while it would be welcome if senators took up the cause of an expanded bottle law, it will assuredly be dumped. Yet again.