BUDGETLESS DEM LEADERS HEAD TO MEETING WITH BAKER
By Colin A. Young
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, JULY 16, 2018.....Legislative leaders will meet privately with Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday afternoon, after a weekend that brought about no resolution to the weeks-long budget standoff or any of the five other major bills being negotiated between the House and Senate.
The budget stalemate enters the third full week of July, a critical juncture for the Democrats who control both branches with super-majorities but run the risk of not having enough time to respond to any spending vetoes if they don't get a fiscal year 2019 budget to Gov. Charlie Baker by the end of the week.
"July 16. Still no state budget. 16 days late. Nothing sweet about this 16," House Minority Leader Brad Jones tweeted Monday morning.
As she got into an elevator after presiding over a brief informal session of the Senate on Monday morning, Senate Ways and Means Chairwoman Karen Spilka told the News Service there was "lots of progress" made on the budget over the weekend.
Asked whether a budget deal will emerge this week, she said, "I hope so."
Massachusetts is the only state in the country that has not yet put a fiscal 2019 budget in place, now 16 days after the new fiscal year began. With an eye on the July 31 end of formal sessions, Baker has said he's worried that budget talks could push some of his priorities off the table for this session.
Baker, House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Harriette Chandler will meet in DeLeo's office at 2 p.m. Monday, after which the so-called Big Three is expected to take questions from the press.
Spilka said Thursday that negotiators were getting "closer by the hour" to a deal, but negotiations take place in secret and it is not clear how far apart the two sides remain. Chandler next week is expected to hand leadership of the Senate over to Spilka.
In late June, Baker signed a budget to finance state government through July, the first month of fiscal 2019. Asked Friday whether he anticipates needing to file another interim budget, the governor paused for an unusually long time - seven or eight seconds - before responding.
"It is our hope and our expectation that we don't have to file another one-twelfth budget," Baker said, using government slang for a monthly budget.
Aside from the budget, lawmakers are trying to iron out compromises on short-term rental regulation, consumer data security, civics education, veterans benefits and a major health care bill.
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