Legislature passes bill to fund government through July

Massachusetts

FILE – In this June 15, 2018 file photo, twenty dollar bills are counted in North Andover, Mass. Amid the pandemic-fueled recession, your job description and responsibilities may have changed. Whether you’ve taken on more tasks after employees were laid off or your household income has taken a hit, there are plenty of reasons to negotiate your salary even in tough times. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)

BOSTON (SHNS) – Now guaranteed to miss the deadline to have a annual budget in place by July 1, the Legislature passed a temporary budget on Monday that would keep government programs funded through July while negotiations on an annual spending plan continue.

The new fiscal year starts on Thursday, but budget talks between the House and Senate over competing $47.7 billion annual budgets (H 4001 / S 2465) remain behind closed doors and ongoing. Even if a deal were to be struck before the start of fiscal 2022, the Senate adjourned Monday with plans not to meet again until Thursday. The House and Senate both enacted a $5.41 billion interim budget filed by Gov. Charlie Baker last week to keep government funded through July.

Baker had asked that the Legislature approve the interim budget, which would be voided upon passage of a general appropriations bill, no later than June 29 to ensure that the state can meet its financial obligations. Sen. Cindy Friedman, the vice chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, called passage of the interim budget “standard procedure” while the six-member conference committee works to “finalize” a fiscal 2022 budget.

“The interim budget will provide $5.41 billion to cover the bills and services estimated for the first month of the year, and will allow us to finish our thoughtful and collaborative work with our House colleagues on the final full-year budget,” Friedman said.

The filing and passage of one or more interim budgets is not unusual on Beacon Hill, where legislative negotiators frequently take their private talks over the state’s annual budget beyond the July start of the new fiscal year. After a pandemic-interrupted year that saw the Legislature wait until the winter to tackle an annual appropriations bill, this year’s budget is back on its more traditional cycle.

House and Senate negotiating teams, led by Rep. Aaron Michlewitz and Sen. Michael Rodrigues, were named on June 7 and met for the first time a day later to begin hashing out a compromise budget. If and when they do strike a deal and the full House and Senate pass a final fiscal year 2022 budget, Baker would still be afforded 10 days to review the bill. With tax collections soaring to close out fiscal 2021 and debate over how to spend an expected surplus, Democratic leaders have suggested they may also take a fresh look at projected tax collections for next year.

The conference committee is also negotiating multiple policy proposals baked into the spending bill, including the looming expiration of and proposed reforms to the state’s film tax credit program and Senate-backed fee increases on rides booked through transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft.

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