Massachusetts Legislature Still Hasn’t Passed A Budget, Won’t This Week

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By Chris Lisinski
State House News Service

The Massachusetts House and Senate broke for a long weekend without wrapping up work on the overdue annual state budget Thursday, and one top lawmaker said negotiators still are not sure how much the final plan will upgrade the state’s tax revenue outlook.

State Senator Michael Rodrigues (D-Westport) and state Representative Aaron Michlewitz (D-North End), the two Ways and Means Committee chairmen, both said they are conducting active talks about producing a final spending plan for the fiscal year that started July 1. And in the meantime, they continue to wait for a final accounting of the state’s June tax haul that will help finalize a multibillion-dollar budget surplus.

“We’re certainly waiting on the final numbers from June, but I wouldn’t say that is what’s the definitive answer on us finishing up the FY23 budget,” Michlewitz said. “We’re certainly knowing we’re going to be in some type of increasing-revenue standpoint, but we just don’t know yet exactly what that number is.”

Both branches approved roughly $50 billion budgets, but they differed on individual spending levels and some policy priorities. The Senate added language to its version of the budget shielding abortion providers and other reproductive and gender-transitioning professionals from legal action amid tightening restrictions in other states, a topic the House tackled last week with a broader standalone bill (H 4930).

Senate President Karen Spilka said she “look[s] forward to debating a version of this bill when it comes to the Senate,” though her team still has not scheduled that action with just a bit more than three weeks left to tackle major legislation.

“We’re hopeful that bill will be taken up by the Senate very shortly so we can get that done before July 31,” Michlewitz said. “There’s a lot of other pieces to the budget that are included. To pick and choose one thing is not necessarily appropriate until we get this thing done.”

That end-of-formal-business deadline falls on a Sunday this year, which could push lawmakers to schedule rare weekend sessions if they still need to get bills across the finish line.

“I’m hopeful that working with the Senate, we can get everything done in a timely fashion so we don’t have to be in here Sunday at the midnight hour,” House Speaker Ron Mariano said.


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