BOSTON – Both branches of the Legislature have scheduled rare Friday sessions as lawmakers continue their wait for the now 11-day late, $42.7 billion state budget.
The Senate gaveled out at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, with plans to return Friday at 2 p.m., and later in the day, the House put its own Friday session on the schedule for 11 a.m.
The two lawmakers present in the chamber when the House adjourned, Reps. Paul Donato of Medford and Donald Wong of Saugus, each pointed to the fact that the Senate was also coming in when asked about the House's plans for Friday.
Wong, a Republican, said representatives would "wait and see what the Senate is going to be doing" and that he's heard the six budget conferees are "very close" to reaching a deal.
"But it's taken longer than I thought it should," he said.
The budget process began in January when Gov. Charlie Baker filed his spending plan.
The six-member conference committee haggling over spending bill details is co-chaired by Sen. Michael Rodrigues of Westport and Rep. Aaron Michlewitz of Boston, who are both new this session to their Ways and Means Committee chairmanships.
The Democrat-controlled conference committee held its first meeting on June 5, and a separate conference committee kicked off its talks on distracted driving legislation on June 19.
Asked if he was expecting a conference report to be filed, Donato said no. "The only thing we're expecting is that they continue to be diligent in working to get this thing out of the way as quickly as possible," he said.
"We're just coming in waiting to see whether or not things are moving along," Donato said. "They are moving along in the conference committee, but we're just waiting to see whether or not there's some resolution, and hopefully if there is, then we'll be able to move forward."
Negotiators refuse to discuss their talks or what's holding up an agreement and their deliberations are conducted privately.
Most state have wrapped up their annual budgets already, but lawmakers in Massachusetts and Ohio have been unable to agree on spending bill details.