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New fiscal year begins with no state budget deal

The new fiscal year dawned Wednesday with the Legislature failing to fulfill one of its most fundamental responsibilities: enacting the yearly state budget.

The Senate and House each passed a spending proposal months ago, but the chambers have yet to reconcile their differences, which have included various tax measures and how to fix the beleaguered MBTA.

And, based on its schedule, the Legislature appears poised to go into the July 4 holiday weekend without concluding its fiscal work.

The delay marks a departure from recent years, when budgets were enacted and sent to the governor before or at the beginning of July.


A month-long interim budget is in place — it's called a "one-twelfth" in the wonkish argot of Beacon Hill — which means state government will continue to function.

But one of the top legislative budget leaders expressed dismay that the two-chamber negotiating group, known as a conference committee, had blown past the normal deadline.

"I am deeply disappointed that the [fiscal year 2016] budget has not yet been agreed to by the conference committee. This is the first time in my five years as chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means that the state budget will not be delivered in a timely fashion," said Haverhill Democrat Brian S. Dempsey.

He continued, notably eschewing the use of "we" and favoring a singular pronoun instead: "I have been working around the clock to settle the differences and it will continue to be my only priority to see this budget resolved for the people of the Commonwealth."

Senate Ways and Means chairwoman Karen E. Spilka was a bit more chipper in a statement of her own.

"Despite a staggering $1.8 billion budget deficit and other unique circumstances, I remain hopeful we will reach a quick agreement on outstanding issues," she said. Spilka, an Ashland Democrat, also referred to a sharp point of budget contention that took weeks to resolve: the House's request that the Supreme Judicial Court weigh in on a Senate tax plan. (The SJC opined in the Senate's favor.) "We began this process with the uncertainty surrounding a request for an advisory opinion from the Supreme Judicial Court, which has been resolved," she said.


Spilka said she will continue to work hard to deliver a budget to Governor Charlie Baker.

An aide to Baker, a Republican, said the governor was not concerned about the delay, but looked forward to seeing a budget as soon as one is ready.

On Beacon Hill, nothing is ever set in stone, so it's possible a fiscal breakthrough could occur all of a sudden. But it's now widely expected that a compromise budget won't see the light of day and be voted on until, at the earliest, late next week.

In the early days of next week, many legislators are set to attend the wake and funeral of state Senator Thomas P. Kennedy, a Brockton Democrat who died Sunday.

Joshua Miller can be reached at joshua.miller@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jm_bos.