Despite having had months to do the work, Massachusetts legislators did not finalize a state budget before the new fiscal year that began on Sunday.
While an already-passed temporary budget bill means government won’t immediately shut down, Massachusetts has now fallen behind almost every other state on fiscal punctuality.
As of July 1, 48 states had enacted a new or revised budget for fiscal 2019, according to National Association of State Budget Officers.
The Democratic-controlled Massachusetts House and Senate have both passed their own versions of a $41 billion state budget. But, so far, they haven’t been able to reconcile the two spending plans.
Besides setting appropriations for specific areas — the state’s Medicaid program, the State Police, housing for homeless families, for example — each budget also includes policy sections that would change state law.
According to the business-backed watchdog Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, the House-passed budget has 109 non-spending sections, while the Senate has 185.
“As has been the case in recent years, the Senate budget includes significantly more policy provisions that the House,” the foundation said in a report last week. “This mismatch in the number of sections can make it difficult to resolve policy differences in a way that is satisfactory for both branches.”
State services will continue because the Legislature passed and Republican Governor Charlie Baker signed a temporary, one-month budget last week. It means government is funded through the end of July.
The Constitution gives the governor 10 days to mull over any bill, including the state budget. So the Legislature should have sent him its plan by the end of June 20.
Budget tardiness is par for the course in Massachusetts.
Last year, House and Senate negotiators announced their compromise on July 7 and sent it to the governor the same day.
Joshua Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.