Gov to Legislature: Time to wrap it up
Baker urges pols to finish delayed budget
Gov. Charlie Baker is pushing lawmakers to wrap up the late state budget — now stuck with House and Senate negotiators — and move onto other bills he fears otherwise could get squeezed into the final hours of the legislative session.
Massachusetts is the only state without a permanent budget for the next fiscal year. It blew through a selfimposed July 1 deadline for the $41.5 billion spending plan and has been running on a $5 billion interim budget that will run out at the end of the month.
“It’s important for them to finish the work on this,” Baker said.
“First, agencies and organizations that depend on state dollars need to know what they’ll have to spend next year, and second there’s all the other work Beacon Hill could be doing instead of waiting on a budget.
“One of the things we all worry about is what happens when all this stuff comes to the end of the session,” Baker said.
“I’m as worried about that.”
The governor laid out his wish list for the session to include his major opioid bill, a housing bill tackling zoning issues, an environmental bond bill addressing climate change resiliency and a bill regulating short-term rentals such as Airbnb.
“The bottom line is, as long as people are spending as much time as they are spending on the budget, that’s lost time that could be spent on a lot of this other stuff,” Baker said.
Paul Craney of the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance decried the lack of a budget and highlighted the fact that the Legislature’s first action of this session was to give themselves raises befitting a more professional position.
“If the raises were tied to the budget, it would be done by now,” Craney said.
House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo this week said he did not know when the budget would be completed, adding only that he knew the conference committee stitching together the House and Senate versions continued their work. Earlier this week, he suggested cutting the policy portions from the budget to get it moving faster.
DeLeo stood by the importance of the Legislature’s deadline.
“I play by the rules that July 1 was an ironclad deadline for us to do the budget,” DeLeo said Thursday. “That is what we are required to do. We should have it done. That’s what people elected us to do, and deadlines are important to me.”