DeLEO: HOUSE WILL WAIT FOR BAKER TO MAKE BUDGET FIXES
By Matt Murphy
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, DEC. 15, 2014.....House Speaker Robert DeLeo on Monday pushed back the timeline for the House to consider budget-balancing legislation, indicating that he will now wait until after Governor-elect Charlie Baker takes office to deal with the problem.
DeLeo, after meeting with Gov. Deval Patrick and Senate President Therese Murray for the last time on Monday before the major shake-up of leadership on Beacon Hill next month, said he would not attempt to push through a bill this month during lightly attended informal sessions.
"I think that in fairness to Chairman (Brian) Dempsey, we have some things we want to go over, number one, and probably in fairness to the incoming governor or administration and finance secretary we may want to wait, at that point, to get their opinions," DeLeo told the News Service.
House Ways and Means Chairman Brian Dempsey, who stood behind DeLeo as he spoke, said earlier this month he was eyeing a corporate tax amnesty program to generate revenues and offset the need for additional spending cuts to close the remainder of the $329 million budget gap identified by Patrick after the November election.
Dempsey said at the time he hoped to advance a bill in December, and was actively reviewing both Patrick's proposed spending reductions and ways to restore some of spending Patrick cut from local aid accounts like regional school transportation.
Asked about corporate tax amnesty, DeLeo said, "We're looking at anything and everything. Anything that can help us get through these difficult fiscal times and hopefully allow us to save some programs."
Baker told the News Service last week that he was open to the idea of a two-month amnesty period for corporations to repay delinquent taxes without penalty. House Minority Leader Brad Jones has filed legislation to create the program, which he estimates could generate $15 million to $20 million.
"It's obviously something that's only going to work on a short-time basis. I think the best solution, of course, would be not to have to ever do this stuff, but over time things happen and using this as a vehicle to sort of clean up another backlog is not a bad idea," Baker said.
Patrick, DeLeo and Murray have for years held semi-regular Monday afternoon meetings to discuss policy priorities.
Murray said this meeting was less about policy and more about exchanging goodbyes and happy holiday wishes. "It was nice," Murray said.
DeLeo and Murray also said there would not be any major surprise pieces of legislation on the move in the waning days of the session before a new Legislature takes the oath on Jan. 7 and all current bills die.
"There are various pieces of legislation we've been working on that have been moving, but I don't think anything that many people would be shocked at. These things have been talked about for a while," DeLeo said.
"A lot of local stuff," Murray added
The decision by the House leadership to allow Governor-Elect Charlie Baker to take office before acting on further budget balancing legislation will likely mean the new Administration will have an opportunity to review Governor Patrick's budget cutting recommendations; and will likely mean that issues contained in the pending FY 15 Supplemental Budget will be addressed after the beginning of the calendar year.
For ADDP members concerned about the remaining 5% restoration to ALTR contracts: contract amendments will not be eligible to be completed until the FY 15 Supplemental is addressed. ADDP is pleased to have the affirmative recommendation from A&F and the current Administration to fund this obligation and anticipate a receptive audience with the new Administration.