Last In Nation, Massachusetts Budget Negotiators Still ‘Getting There’

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By Michael P. Norton
State House News Service

The Massachusetts House budget chief is “hopeful” that a deal on the overdue state budget will be reached this week, but did not on Tuesday call a deal “very close,” as his Senate counterpart did on Monday.

“We’re getting there, but it’s not done ’til it’s done,” the House Ways and Means Committee chairman, state Representative Aaron Michlewitz (D-North End), told State House News Service on Tuesday afternoon.

The budget was due by July 1. As talks drag on deeper into the month, the chief negotiators — Michlewitz and Senate Ways and Means chairman Michael Rodrigues (D-Westport) — remain on budget duty rather than focused squarely on a mountain of other unfinished major bills, and myriad calls from advocacy groups to pass additional legislation.

Formal sessions are scheduled under legislative rules to end for the year on July 31, so the window is closing on a process that’s likely to eventually require many additional votes on budget amendments and potential vetoes from the governor.

Rodrigues said Monday that budget negotiators were “very close” to a deal.

The developing accord is setting up like a politician’s dream, with enough revenue available to fund the most generous spending plans on the negotiating table while still leaving sufficient revenue to pay for a tax relief package and drive up the state’s rainy day savings account to a new high.

Massachusetts is pretty much last-in-the-nation on its fiscal year 2023 budget.

Most states start their fiscal year July 1, and the National Conference of State Legislatures reported that Massachusetts and Pennsylvania were the two states entering fiscal year 2023 that day without a plan in place.

Pennsylvania missed its constitutional deadline by eight days, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. Its Republican-majority General Assembly passed a budget accord Friday, July 8 that was signed the same day by Governor Tom Wolf, a Democrat.

Michigan is the only other state that hasn’t finalized its budget, but it isn’t late, according to the National Association of State Budget Officers. The Great Lake State’s budget is already on Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s desk and its fiscal year doesn’t start until October 1.


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