Baker delivered ‘too many’ spending vetoes, Senate prez says

Printed from:

STATE HOUSE — A disappointed Senate President Stanley Rosenberg said Monday that Gov. Charlie Baker delivered “too many” spending vetoes, although it will be up to the House to decide which budget spending to attempt to restore through override efforts.

The Senate will be “very busy” figuring out which of Baker’s fiscal 2017 budget vetoes the Legislature can override, Rosenberg told two reporters outside the State House Monday after attending a rally celebrating the state’s new transgender rights law.

Baker signed the annual budget (H 4450) on Friday after reducing it by $256 million through spending vetoes, leaving a $38.92 billion bottom line. The governor vetoed $60 million in earmarked spending and cut spending from 303 line items, leaving a budget that raises state spending by 1.3 percent.

“Wow, too many,” Rosenberg said Monday when asked for a reaction to Baker’s vetoes.

“We thought we sent a good budget to the governor’s desk and anything that got removed is a disappointment,” Rosenberg told reporters.

Baker’s vetoes cut spending from the Legislature’s final $39.15 billion budget, which had already been reduced from the $39.5 billion spending bills both branches passed.

Reduced revenue estimates left an $838 million revenue shortfall, according to the Baker administration, a gap greater than the one assumed when the legislative budget conference committee worked out its compromise budget in late June.

“We’re going to be very busy trying to figure out which ones we have the bandwidth to override,” Rosenberg said. “I think the most important thing is it’s a clear demonstration we have a revenue problem. We have a revenue problem.”

Speaking for the Green Budget Coalition, Erica Mattison, legislative director of the Environmental League of Massachusetts, said vetoes delivered “substantial budget cuts for environmental protection and state parks.”

“The Department of Environmental Protection and Department of Conservation and Recreation have been subject to disproportionate budget cuts in recent years, resulting in major staff reductions,” Mattison said in a statement. “These cuts put the public at risk and make it nearly impossible for the remaining staff to adequately fulfill the broad responsibilities of these agencies. Fighting climate change, ensuring clean water, and providing safe, high-quality outdoor experiences for residents and visitors are all important duties which require resources.”

Budget overrides require support from two thirds of those voting in the House and Senate, and overrides require recorded roll call votes, which cannot be taken after formal sessions end for the year on July 31. All overrides must originate in the House, and Speaker Robert DeLeo said Monday he planned to speak with House budget writers about the governor’s cuts and amendments.

— Written by Katie Lannan

Copyright State House News Service