BOSTON (SHNS) – After spending nearly two months at loggerheads, there’s a chance top Democrats reach a breakthrough on their stalled economic development and tax relief bill ahead of the Nov. 8 election, at least in Gov. Charlie Baker’s view.
Baker said Thursday that he thinks a compromise version of the unanimously-approved-and-then-frozen legislation will likely emerge “sometime in the next couple of weeks,” which could put it in play before voters head to the polls with all 200 seats in the Legislature up for election.
“The timeframe people talked about previously was the end of October. The end of October, obviously, is this week, unless you want to count Halloween (on Monday),” Baker said in an interview on GBH’s “Boston Public Radio.” “It’s probably going to be sometime in the next couple of weeks that we’ll probably see that bill.”
Both branches approved bills containing more than $4 billion to supercharge the state economy and deliver one-time and permanent tax relief for seniors, renters, caregivers and other Bay Staters, but top Democrats iced their plans after realizing the state must return nearly $3 billion in excess tax revenue and since late July have not been able to agree on a path forward. Baker said he is unsure “exactly what’s going to be in” the final economic development bill.
He does not expect anything that would require a roll call vote — which under legislative rules can no longer take place until the new term starts in January — such as bond authorizations. Lawmakers also have not taken action on a supplemental budget Baker filed Aug. 31 to close the books on fiscal year 2022, which appears likely to force Comptroller William McNamara to miss his own Oct. 31 financial reporting deadline.
The Republican governor said he expects to receive that bill, too, adding that Democrat legislative leaders told him they are “feeling pretty good about the conversations” taking place. “Isn’t it going to be great when you don’t have to be nice to them starting in January?” asked host Jim Braude. “Generally speaking, my strategy is just to be nice most of the time, Jim,” Baker replied.