STATE CAPITOL BRIEFS - AFTERNOON EDITION - THURSDAY, FEB. 13, 2014

STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

ENVIRO GROUP REPORT RIPS STATE FUNDING LEVELS AS "DISGRACE"

In what has become an annual request, environmental activists again called on the Legislature and Gov. Deval Patrick Thursday to boost spending on environmental programs to 1 percent of the state budget, a level last achieved 13 years ago. According to the Environmental League of Massachusetts, state funding for environmental agencies and programs currently accounts for 0.6 percent of the state budget. Asserting that overall state environmental funding is down 6 percent from fiscal 2008, ELM President George Bachrach said state agencies charged with environmental protection are "still suffering from deep budget cuts" even though the state is growing its way out of the last recession. The Department of Environmental Protection, according to ELM, is operating with 21 percent less state funding, compared to fiscal 2008, and with less federal support as well. "For a progressive state such as Massachusetts, spending less than 1 percent is a disgrace," environmental groups wrote in their "green budget" released on Thursday. - M. Norton/SHNS

AAA OPPOSING GAS TAX INDEXING REPEAL

AAA of Southern New England announced Thursday its plans to support Massachusetts Democrats in their opposition to an initiative petition that would repeal a state law indexing the gas tax to inflation. "Indexing the gas tax to inflation is the best way to ensure that we can keep pace with the escalating costs of improving our transportation infrastructure," AAA of Southern New England President Mark Shaw said in a statement.


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Proponents of the ballot question have ripped the indexing measure as a "forever tax" that unfairly locks in gas tax hikes without requiring lawmakers to take votes on whether the tax should be increased. - M. Norton/SHNS

GOSULE PLANS SENATE CAMPAIGN LAUNCH

Sen. John Keenan, a Democrat from Quincy, will face a Republican challenger this year. Les Gosule, a longtime advocate for victims' rights who has been contemplating a run, plans to launch his campaign for Senate on March 12 at Alba in Quincy, he announced Thursday. Gosule on Thursday also called on Keenan to demand the resignation of Department of Children and Families Commissioner Olga Roche, saying the agency has been "grossly mismanaged." - M. Norton/SHNS