BOSTON -- The Democratic leadership of both legislative branches took the week off for spring break but not before failing to reach a compromise on an annual spending bill which is leaving critical roadway projects on indefinite hold despite the fact that these very same leaders gave themselves a pay raise on the premise that they are over worked and underpaid. The Speaker and Senate President, who set the schedule of formal sessions needed to take a vote on the critical bill, chose to take the week off along with K-12 students, leaving no opportunity for a vote on the bill this week.
"The Senate President and House Speaker told the people of Massachusetts that they and their pals deserved a pay raise because they have so much work to do but apparently taking school children's spring break week off is more important than fixing local roads. Public school students deserve a week off. They work eight hours a day, five days a week but sadly the same can't be said for the Democratic leadership of the House and Senate." -MassGOP Chairman Kirsten Hughes
Cost, timing of road projects affected by funding bill stalemate
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
By Michael Norton
With legislation overdue but lawmakers on break, cities and towns in Massachusetts and a leading construction trade group are urging legislative negotiators on Beacon Hill to agree to a multi-year law delivering funds for local road repairs.
After failing to strike an agreement ahead of the 2017 construction season, the House and Senate on April 5 sent to conference committee legislation aimed at delivering state funds to fix up local roads, including those torn up this winter.
The House bill allocates $200 million; the Senate bill authorizes $400 million over two years and includes other measures not addressed by the House.
The Legislature has gone largely dormant for school vacation week, and it's unclear whether the conference committee has held its first meeting.
"Conference committee members have shared numerous productive exchanges in order to make progress on the bill," chief House conferee Rep. William Straus said in a statement emailed to the News Service on Tuesday.
The bill is the second major piece of legislation to advance in the branches during the 2017-2018 session. The House and Senate early this session quickly gaveled through a pay raise bill for legislators, judges and statewide officeholders with an overall annual cost of $18 million. State budget deliberations are expected to dominate legislative affairs during the remainder of April, May and June.
If an agreement is reached, it must be ratified and enacted, on a recorded vote, by the House and Senate. Roll call votes are permitted only during formal sessions. The House has formal sessions scheduled next week for fiscal 2018 budget deliberations. No formal Senate sessions are currently scheduled.