MASSACHUSETTS FINALLY SET TO GET SIGNED STATE BUDGET
By Michael P. Norton
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, JULY 26, 2018...Gov. Charlie Baker will sign the fiscal year 2019 budget on Thursday afternoon, and Massachusetts will become the final state in the country to have its annual spending plan in place.
Baker has used eight of the 10 days allotted to him to review the budget before acting on the $41.9 billion bill. He plans to sign the bill at 3 p.m. in his office.
The governor is expected to exercise his line-item veto authority and send parts of the budget back with amendments. House and Senate Democrats are poised to quickly review items he returns and initiate veto overrides.
Rep. David Nangle of Lowell told WBZ radio Thursday morning that he expected a "couple of hundred" veto overrides, which will be initiated in the House and must receive two-thirds votes in both branches to take effect.
Democrats have supermajorities in both branches and can easily undo the governor's spending cuts when voting together.
The budget was due July 1. Anticipating that Democratic legislative leaders might miss that deadline, Baker filed an interim budget to keep government services and paychecks flowing in July and the Legislature quickly approved that temporary budget.
Roll call votes required to override vetoes may only be taken during formal sessions, which under joint rules are set to end for the year on Tuesday at midnight. Weekend sessions are expected to tackle overrides and perhaps some of the many other major unresolved bills addressing clean energy, health care, education funding, voter registration, animal welfare, veterans benefits, short-term rental regulation, economic development and opioid addiction bills.
Baker has been clamoring for lawmakers to pass his housing production bill that lowers the threshold required to make local zoning changes to majority from two thirds. Legislators have not committed to passing his bill, but have not ruled it out either. "Housing, at this late a date, I'm not certain we'll get any housing bill, so we'll have to focus on that," Sen. Karen Spilka said Wednesday, discussing her priorities for next session as she prepares to take over as Senate president.
In a letter Tuesday to Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Harriette Chandler, Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce CEO James Rooney said Baker's bill (H 4290) represents "the first significant change to state zoning regulations in decades."
Many lawmakers and smart growth advocates have been pushing for additions to Baker's bill or for passage of a more comprehensive bill, but with only days left for formal sessions the prospects for passing either Baker's bill or a more expansive bill are uncertain.
"We encourage the House and Senate to maintain the simplicity of Governor Baker's original bill, which has a broad coalition of support," Rooney wrote.
The governor and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito plan at 1 p.m. to attend the Senate session where Sen. Karen Spilka is set to be elected as Senate president.
[Andy Metzger abd Matt Murphy contributed reporting]
Serving the working press since 1894