On Beacon Hill: Senate drops $40.4B spending plan, with a bang

Recap and analysis of the week in local, state and federal government
from State House News Service

BOSTON — The walls crumbling literally and figuratively around them, senators did their best to pretend everything was purple ties and punch last week as they sped through their annual budget debate and marched off into Memorial Day weekend.

The exercise dominated activity on Beacon Hill, while off campus Joe Biden was bopping about town, Hillary Clinton and Mark Zuckerberg were advising the newest college graduates, and the world was coming to grips with the latest terror attack in England.

The final vote on the $40.4 billion budget bill may have come just in the nick of time, following a loud bang and falling debris from the ceiling — like a bad omen for things to come.

“It sounds like we need to get out of here,” Senate President Stanley Rosenberg said, perhaps half joking, before calling for the vote. The Senate chamber will soon, supposedly, undergo structural renovations.

The finalizing of the Senate budget, however, sets the stage for a month, and maybe more, of negotiations with the House over not just spending, but projections for economic and revenue growth in the coming year that have been called into questions by months of troubling signs.

Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday pointed to this week’s release of May revenue collections as a clarifying moment when leaders will have a better idea of how fiscal 2017 will end up, and what it could foretell for fiscal 2018.

State House News Service file

Senate President Stan Rosenberg

“It’s going to be a rough budget conference,” Rosenberg said following passage of the Senate budget, which only added to the choices that will have to be made as the body loaded the bill with policy proposals, tax adjustments and spending that don’t jibe with the House’s version.

The lack of disposable state income may have made some choices easier this year, but senators found enough money for earmarks — $30 million in fact — to ensure that things like the new Dr. Seuss museum in Springfield and a steampunk festival in Waltham got a piece of the pie.

Those are also likely to be among the first items on the chopping block, if not in conference then by Gov. Baker’s veto pen. The Senate also voted to eliminate parole fees, increase taxes on flavored cigars, and scale back the film tax credit, which House defender and Majority Leader Ron Mariano called an “attack” on job creation policy.

The Senate even found time for a public reading of “Casey at the Bat.”

Over the course of the three days (one longer than it took the House) and consideration of 1,031 amendments, the Senate took just 35 roll call votes, all but one of which was unanimous.

“First time in a long time, when the majority party and the minority party are hard to distinguish,” lamented Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance Executive Director Paul Craney.

— Matt Murphy

ALSO ON THE AGENDA

State House News Service / file

Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito

  • Legislature has some work to do
  • Moore on body cams, Polito on Memorial Day, Markey on vets
  • Senate pivots to policy in face of spending restraints
  • Video: Health advocates praise Baker for Trumpcare stance
  • Warren releases report on importance of NIH funding in Mass.
  • Key departure prompts MBTA management overhaul

Editorial: Flags, flowers and resolve — Memorial Day 2017

Memorial Day cracks opens the door to the long, sweet stretch of summer. It’s also one of the most solemn days on the calendar.

This stark contrast that we navigate every year — the gravity of this holiday and the great pleasure of late spring — did not occur by chance.

The late-May date for honoring our war dead was chosen in part because fresh flowers would be abundant.

Memorial Day is not timed to a particular victory, battle or other military anniversary. Created after the Civil War and long called Decoration Day, the observance stems from the desire to place bright blossoms, a small flag, and a moment’s attention on the graves of people who died fighting for our country.

Worcester Weekly: Bravehearts are back, veggies on the Common + more as May turns to June

The most fun you’ll have with a calendar of events all week. And you just might learn something, too. 

Nature | Holiday

Monday, May 29 — Memorial Day Free Entry for Military and Veterans, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Tower Hill Botanic Garden, 11 French Drive, Boylston  Everyone loves a parade, right?! Wrong. Just like clowns, apple pie and HBO, there are always some wayward folks out there who refuse to get with the program. So, if you’re not into watching 80-year-olds trudging to the haphazard beats of high school marching bands — and because of this idiosyncrasy you’ve received no cookout invitations — consider a quick road trip to explore the lush landscapes and serene surroundings of Tower Hill.

All active military and veterans with valid IDs will be admitted for free. Up to five family members with valid military dependent IDs will receive 20 percent off their admission ($12 adults, $8 seniors, $4 kids 6 and up).

For more information

Outdoors

Tuesday, May 30 — Cycling Exhibit and Repair Station unveiling, 11 a.m., Blackstone River Bikeway, 1265 Millbury St.  When complete the Blackstone River Bikeway will span 48 miles and connect cyclists from Worcester to Providence. It will also connect them with nature and history — but you know those folks; they’re just in it for the cool helmets and spandex shorts.

Amanda Carr

Inbox [May 28]: News and notes from WICN, UMass Medical School, WPI, St. Peter-Marian, WCAC and SmartAsset

Have news you or your group would like to share? Let us know by emailing it to info@worcester.ma. Be sure to include a link to the full release on your site or Facebook page so we can include it and send Sun members your way.

WICN names new executive director

WICN-FM (90.5), a National Public Radio affiliate station, has named Amanda Carr executive director.

In addition to her music and production background, Carr brings sales and marketing knowledge to her role. She takes the reins from Tom Lucci, a former WICN board president who has been acting as interim GM.

“Our board, staff, and volunteers are all thrilled to have Amanda join the team,” Board President Jeffrey Duquette said. “We know that she will prove to be a strong and active community leader and will promote WICN in the communities we serve.”

Worcester County obituaries, May 28, 2017

Today’s obituary listings from Central Mass. funeral homes.

Worcester Sun, May 28-June 3: Mariano gives Trump supporters the stage, not-so-Great Wall, Live Action Escapes expands + more

Sinacola on Manchester. Hitch on Elizabeth Warren. Giselle Rivera-Flores on leadership. The Bravehearts are back. And, still, there’s more inside your May 28-June 3 Worcester Sun.

Worcester County obituaries, May 27, 2017

Today’s obituary listings from Central Mass. funeral homes.

Worcester County obituaries, May 26, 2017

Today’s obituary listings from Central Mass. funeral homes.

Worcester County obituaries, May 25, 2017

Today’s obituary listings from Central Mass. funeral homes.

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Welcome to the Worcester Sun. We launched in August 2015 with the goal of putting “local” back into local journalism. The Worcester Sun is locally owned, and its co-founders, Mark Henderson and Fred Hurlbrink Jr., live locally. We believe journalism supported by advertising only puts publishers in the position of searching for stories that gather the most clicks. Unfortunately, most of the time popularity and meaning are not the same.