BOSTON – As lawmakers pad spending for the current fiscal year, Gov. Charlie Baker has filed legislation that would keep government open in case legislators are late again in delivering a fiscal 2020 state budget.
After taking formal sessions off for the week, the Senate used an informal session attended by four senators Thursday to pass a $43 million fiscal 2019 spending bill.
Over in the House, Baker quietly submitted a $5 billion interim budget to keep state government cash flowing if an annual budget is not in place by July 1. That bill (H 3910) is now before the House Ways and Means Committee, and is likely to be approved by the Legislature next week.
Last year, Massachusetts was the last state in the nation to enact an annual budget. Forty-six states will begin their 2020 fiscal year on July 1, and this year 33 states have enacted a fiscal 2020 budget as of June 18, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
The Senate supplemental spending bill includes money for collective bargaining contracts, public defenders, and child support enforcement, areas of spending also covered in a House supplemental spending bill approved in May.
The bill (S 2271) also includes language around medical child support requirements and extensions of near-term reporting deadlines for two task forces established under last year's criminal justice overhaul -- one studying bail reform and the other young adults in the justice system -- to December 31, 2019.
Like the $41.1 million supplemental budget (H 3819) the House passed on May 29, the bill also allocates money to district attorney's offices, includes language around municipal broadband project funding and creates a task force to study the proper storage of evidence in criminal cases.
The House version extended authorization for horse racing and simulcasting for another year; that language is not in the Senate bill. The current simulcasting laws are set to expire on July 31.
Last year, racing and simulcasting became illegal in Massachusetts for about 36 hours when lawmakers did not pass a reauthorization bill until after the July 31 deadline.
Differences between the two 2019 spending bills will need to be worked out before a bill can be sent to Gov. Charlie Baker.
The Senate bill, according to a summary, also allocates $4.5 million for the MassHire Department of Career Services, $3.7 million for early education and care quality improvement, $1.9 million for Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development shared services and $140,000 for the military division. It would also expand the state's Military Asset and Security Strategy Task Force, adding the secretary of technology services and security and the executive director of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative as new members.