State Budget Now in Conference Committee

Joint Committee on Way and Means Co-Chairs Sen. Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland) and Rep. Brian S. Dempsey (D-Haverhill).

The process to send Gov. Charlie Baker a final state budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 is under way.

A six-member conference committee, including Joint Committee on Way and Means Co-Chairs Rep. Brian S. Dempsey (D-Haverhill) and Sen. Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland), held its first session to reconcile House and Senate versions of a $39.5 billion budget Friday, according to State House News Service. The Senate late last month unanimously passed a $39.56 billion spending plan which included $61.3 million added under amendments approved during three days of debate. The House version, finalized in early May, stands at a reported $39.51 billion. During Friday’s meeting, members voted to hold their deliberations in closed session, according to Dempsey’s Chief of Staff Colleen M. McGonagle.

“The staff are going through items that are discussed. We go through the line items and staff make their decision,” McGonagle said

The conference committee, which also include one minority party member in each branch, “reports a final compromise bill to the House and Senate for a final vote of acceptance in each branch,” according to a statement. After it is forwarded, Baker has 10 days to review the budget and take action to either approve or veto the budget. “The governor may approve or veto the entire budget, veto or reduce specific line items, veto outside sections or submit changes as an amendment to the budget for further consideration by the legislature.”

Should a final budget not reach Baker by the June 30 end of the current fiscal year, legislators have the option to approve a temporary “one twelfth” funding appropriation, McGonagle added.

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