Massachusetts’ late budget an ’embarrassment,’ watchdog says

By Mary Markos BOSTON HERALD | July 18, 2019 

A government watchdog is calling for new leadership after the “embarrassment” of Massachusetts coming in dead last across the nation on finalizing a budget for the second year in a row.

“Rank-and-file members and newly elected officials should consider running and taking over for the people who are currently in charge, because it’s clear that nothing is getting done,” Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance spokesman Paul Craney told the Herald.

With Ohio passing its budget late Wednesday, Massachusetts became the only state in the union operating without a formal budget. Craney said the tardiness either indicates dysfunction within the government or a deliberate stall to give the public as little time as possible to review the budget before approving it.

“It’s not becoming just an embarrassment every time we pass a budget. Now the credit agencies are looking at Massachusetts saying, ‘This could impact the credit of the state,'” Craney added, referring to a July 3 report from Moody’s credit rating agency that said late budgets are “common” in Massachusetts and a sign of “governance weakness.”

Senate President Karen Spilka and House Speaker Robert DeLeo didn’t specify what is holding up the process when reporters asked Monday, just that there are “complicated policy issues.” Neither Spilka nor DeLeo’s office returned requests for comment Thursday.

DeLeo called for Gov. Charlie Baker to file another 1/12th budget Monday, a temporary fix, but Baker told reporters Thursday that he would “view that as a last resort.”

While Baker said “the outcome is more important than the timing,” he told reporters Thursday that the longer it takes to finish the budget, the longer it will be before they can address other proposals, pointing to bills he filed to address the housing crisis, hands-free driving and dangerousness.

“I do think that it’s important for the Legislature to come to terms with this,” Baker said. “I think a lot of us were hoping some of this stuff would get done before they broke in July, so my big concern is not only the uncertainty of not having the budget done but also what that does to pushing back the time frame on all this other stuff as well, so I hope they do get it done and I hope they get it done shortly.”


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