- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 2, 2016

BOSTON (AP) - Gov. Charlie Baker’s top budget official says the Republican administration’s nearly $40 billion spending plan moves the state closer to eliminating chronic deficits.

Secretary of Administration and Finance Kristen Lepore testified Tuesday as legislators began hearings on the proposed budget for the next fiscal year.

Lepore said the plan closes an estimated $625 million shortfall by keeping spending in line with tax revenue growth. She said it holds growth in Medicaid - the largest single area of spending - to 5 percent over current levels.

The administration also plans to deposit at least $206 million into the “rainy day fund” to allay concerns of bond rating agencies that the state is depleting reserves too quickly.

Both Baker and leaders of the Democratic-controlled Legislature have ruled out tax increases this year.

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