June 28, 2017

With fiscal 2018 on horizon, time running out for state budget solution

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Antonio Caban / State House News Service

Sen. Karen Spilka, left, and Rep. Brian Dempsey lead a joint Ways and Means hearing into potential raises for lawmakers in January -- that measure went off without a hitch, but the fiscal 2018 state budget? That, you'll have to wait for.

BOSTON — It now appears certain that final agreement on a fiscal 2018 state budget, the focus of most of the energy this year in the Democrat-controlled Legislature, will not occur until sometime in the new fiscal year, which begins Saturday.

The House and Senate whisked through a $5.15 billion interim budget Monday, which Gov. Charlie Baker had filed last week, to prevent a government shutdown and keep programs and services running when the new fiscal year starts.

“This would give us through the month of July, if needed. I hope that that is not necessary,” Senate Ways and Means Chairwoman Karen Spilka, D-Ashland, said Monday. “To ensure that government continues to operate efficiently and effectively, we need to ensure we have the appropriation for it.”

A conference committee began trying to come up with a consensus annual budget in early June but has not produced a plan yet, and it’s uncertain whether legislators are making progress — the conference does not publicly discuss budget talks.

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