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December 4, 2012

GOP suggest $30M drug lab request may wait until 2013


Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr told the News Service it would be “difficult, if not impossible” to pass the budget request before the end of the year.

“I think the governor has a lot of work to do if he wants to get this passed in an informal session and that extends beyond meeting with the Senate president and the speaker,” Tarr said.

House Ways and Means Chairman Rep. Brian Dempsey and Senate Ways and Means Chairman Sen. Stephen Brewer were reluctant to discuss their plans, initially indicating they would not comment and referring questions to House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Therese Murray.

“We’re still talking about it,” Brewer said after deflecting several questions.

Murray did not rule out bringing the budget bill to a vote, but acknowledged the obstacles during informal sessions when one lawmaker can block a bill for any reason. The budget bill would first have to clear the House.

“We would like to make it a clean supp budget and that might be difficult in an informal, but we’re still talking about it and if we can we will,” Murray told the News Service. By “clean,” Murray meant that it is her preference that funding be limited to expenses related to the crime lab and not unrelated appropriations sought by lawmakers.

Asked whether that meant it would be impossible to get done in December, Murray said, “I don’t know. We’re going to try.”

Patrick acknowledged that his bill faced an uphill climb toward passage before January, after which point in time the governor would have to refile an appropriation request with the Legislature and the price tag by then could be substantially higher.

“They understand the importance of that and I think they share my sense of urgency. I think the question is can it be done in an informal or formal? They didn’t say, but I think everyone agrees it’s important to get it done sooner rather than later,” Patrick said after meeting with leaders.

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