BOSTON (SHNS) – Lawmakers broke for another long weekend Thursday, their final time meeting in September, with no movement on a stalled economic development bill nor on a spending bill the state comptroller hoped would be complete by the end of the month.
After sauntering through lightly attended sessions that featured only non-controversial local bills, both the House and Senate adjourned until Monday. When they return, the calendar will officially read October, marking two months since legislative leaders ended formal sessions without finishing their economic development and tax relief bill and three months since fiscal year 2022 drew to a close.
Top Democrats still have not signaled any path forward for the more than $4 billion economic development and tax relief bill they put on ice after learning about nearly $3 billion due back to taxpayers under a 1986 voter-approved law, and one Republican involved in the negotiations said Thursday the focus now is on “trying to figure out the vehicle and the proper way in which to move this.”
“I think that logistical aspect is one of the things that’s challenging, coming up as far as how we move this along,” Weymouth Sen. Patrick O’Connor, who is one of the six lawmakers on the conference committee tasked with negotiating a compromise economic development bill, told the News Service. “But my hope is that we can get this done as quickly as possible. There’s a lot of organizations and industries really that are reliant upon a lot of those dollars that are in there.”
O’Connor said he expects lawmakers to slash their original push to include roughly $1.4 billion in borrowing in the economic development bill because they cannot take the roll call votes for bond authorizations during informal sessions, which are planned until the next term begins in January.
“We’re still working on trying to figure out what this economic development bill looks like and then, of course, how to actually get it to the floor,” he said. Comptroller William McNamara under state law must file an annual financial report by Oct. 31, but lawmakers typically need to first approve a closeout supplemental budget to close the books on the prior fiscal year. McNamara had hoped action on that $1.6 billion bill (H 5260) would come by the end of September to give his team time to finish its report, but now he will face a crunch of his own because of the Legislature’s procrastination.