BOSTON -- Just months after refusing to provide consumers with one single day of sales tax relief, Democrat leaders today indicated their intention to override nearly $300 million in gubernatorial budget vetoes, risking the solvency of the 2018 budget.
"Democrats just can't be trusted as responsible stewards of our tax dollars. Now, having cancelled tax relief for consumers, and raising their own pay, their latest act of fiscal irresponsibility will place taxpayers in further jeopardy. If they really cared about their constituents, they would support the Governor's efforts to balance the budget, while apologizing for their votes to fatten their own paychecks." -MassGOP spokesman Terry MacCormack
House readies $275 million in budget veto overrides
State House News Service
By Matt Murphy
House leaders will seek to restore $274.7 million in spending to the fiscal 2018 budget on Wednesday as they pursue a series of overrides of Gov. Charlie Baker's budget vetoes amid uncertainty over whether tax projections will hold up or continue a two-year pattern of weak performance.
House Speaker Robert DeLeo said that the overrides teed up for Wednesday could be just the first of several rounds depending on how tax revenue collections perform in September, which is the first big month of the fiscal year that budget managers are watching for a sign of revenue trends.
New Ways and Means Chairman Jeffrey Sánchez said after a half-hour meeting with Democratic House members that his office had readied 61 line-item vetoes for override votes, accounting for $274.7 million in spending, of which the federal government will reimburse for about $127.7 million.
Baker in July signed a $39.4 billion budget for fiscal year 2018, vetoing $320 million from the spending plan approved by the Democrat-controlled House and Senate and warning that the Legislature had underfunded some accounts by a total of $198 million.
Over the first two months of fiscal 2018, total tax collections are up $66 million, or 1.9 percent over the same period last year, and $11 million below the year-to-date benchmark.
When the Legislature approved the budget in July, Rep. James Lyons, an Andover Republican, said the spending plan was predicated on "hopeful" levels of revenue growth, suggesting a 2.9 percent rate of growth is too optimistic since collections over the past year had grown by about 1.4 percent. "These revenue numbers are not going to meet the expectations," Lyons said.
Even if the House were to make it through all the votes on Wednesday, the Senate does not plan to meet until at least the end of September with Senate President Stanley Rosenberg currently out of the county in Austria and a high Jewish holiday, Rosh Hashanah, falling in the middle of next week.
DeLeo said the Senate's schedule should not be a problem.
"I don't think there's anything that a two-week delay will cause any immediate problems for anyone," he said.
House Minority Leader Brad Jones speculated that the House is taking up override votes Wednesday "so we have something to do," and contended that other legislative matters – such as the roughly $1.3 billion housing bond bill filed by the governor – would be a better use of the House's time at the moment.
It would be more prudent to consider overriding vetoes after September revenue receipts have been compiled, the North Reading Republican told the News Service.
"Let's get through the first quarter. That leaves us all of October," Jones said.