State senators are not dissuaded by tax collections that are running well short of estimates for the current fiscal year and the one that begins on July 1. In a little over 48 hours culminating last Thursday afternoon, 39 senators filed 1,167 amendments to the $39.497 billion fiscal 2017 budget produced by the 18-member Senate Ways and Means Committee. The bill’s primary author, chairwoman Sen. Karen Spilka, filed one fairly lengthy “corrective amendment.”
With the House budget loaded up with earmarked spending that could be adopted by a conference committee, the Senate may use this year’s budget bill to tack on policy matters that have failed to emerge from House-controlled committees. Asked about policy changes in the Senate budget already, Spilka told reporters there were “a lot of policy issues.” Without explaining any, she added, “There’s like eighty outside sections. Again, it’s great reading.”
Packing the budget with policy would add more complexity to conference talks in June, but would give legislative negotiators a robust menu of policy and spending options to choose from as they deliver Gov. Charlie Baker an election year budget that Senate President Stanley Rosenberg says includes business-friendly investments in education, transportation and housing.
Click the audio player to hear Matt Murphy of the State House News Service talk about the week ahead in Massachusetts politics with NEPR’s Henry Epp.