Gov to Leg­is­la­ture: Time to wrap it up

Baker urges pols to fin­ish de­layed bud­get

Boston Herald - - NEWS - By BRIAN DOWLING ­—­ brian.dowling@boston­her­

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.”



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