ATTLEBORO - Democrat challenger Paul Heroux contends state Rep. George Ross put the interests of the Republican Party above those of Attleboro when he voted against a supplemental budget containing disaster relief money.
Heroux said Republicans in the House voted in lockstep against the supplemental budget that sends $7 million in federal relief aid to cities and towns to reimburse them for the clean-up from Tropical Storm Irene.
The budget passed despite Republican opposition, and Attleboro will get its $136,000 share of the federal money.
Heroux said Republicans voted against cities and towns to try to make a statement to voters that they are fiscally conservative.
Ross, R-Attleboro, rejected the criticism, saying he has always supported local aid.
The current regular budget has a 12 percent increase in aid, he said, and last year Republicans led an effort to get unspent state money turned over to cities and towns, bringing an extra $348,000 to Attleboro.
Ross also accused Heroux of running a negative campaign, and said Attleboro voters don't appreciate attacks.
Heroux said his criticisms of Ross have been strictly issue-orientated. Voters are entitled to know the differences between candidates on issues, he said.
Ross said he did not want to respond in detail to the criticism, but several area state representatives recently submitted a letter to the editor of The Sun Chronicle about the supplemental budget.
They said Democrats proposing the total of $45 million in funding contained in the supplemental budget never explained how it would be paid for. The Republicans said that by their calculations, the state budget was $200 million out of balance on June 31.
"The state is not in the business of bouncing checks, and we will not stand idly by and be witness to the Democratic majority's reckless distribution of taxpayer money," the letter stated.
But, Heroux said the $7 million in question was federal money that only needed to be distributed by the state.
The Legislature also recently put another $160 million into a reserve fund, so money was available, if needed, he said.
Steve Kane, a Democrat running against Heroux in the Sept. 6 primary, said he did not want to address the supplemental budget issue because there are far greater problems facing Massachusetts, such as its $78 billion debt.
He said Massachusetts is one of the most indebted states in the nation and that is hampering the economy.