BOSTON >> The Massachusetts Senate is considering a $39.5 billion state budget that calls for an overall spending increase of about 3 percent, while offering additional funding for local schools and public colleges and universities.

Debate began in the chamber on Tuesday with Senate Ways and Means Committee Chairman Karen Spilka calling the proposed budget "balanced and fiscally responsible." The Ashland Democrat also noted it was impossible to fulfill every need in the state with available revenues.

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr of Gloucester said Republicans appreciated that there were no tax increases but added that the state must stay prepared for uncertain economic times.

Senators will consider hundreds of amendments this week.

The House last month passed its own version of the spending plan for the July 1 fiscal year.