Healey files interim budget to keep government running

By COLIN A. YOUNG

State House News Service

Published: 06-21-2023 4:21 PM

While lawmakers continue to hash out a compromise budget for the new fiscal year that begins July 1, Gov. Maura Healey bought them some extra time Tuesday with the filing of an interim budget that would keep state operations going through July.

The $6.66 billion budget would authorize spending on “necessary services” through July 31 or until a complete fiscal year 2024 state budget is signed by Healey. The bill would also allow Treasurer Deb Goldberg to advance local aid payments to municipalities, regional school districts and independent agricultural or technical schools that demonstrate “an emergency cash shortfall.”

Asked about the interim budget Wednesday, Healey said that filing it “was the prudent thing to do.”

Massachusetts needs some kind of budget in place when the new fiscal year starts July 1, and Healey asked lawmakers to act on her interim budget no later than Monday, June 26, “to ensure that the commonwealth will be able to meet its payment obligations without delays.” That would leave four days for the governor to review and sign it.

If lawmakers wait until next week to send the interim budget bill back to the governor’s desk, it is likely that Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll’s signature will end up on it. Healey departs Sunday for a trip to Ireland and Driscoll will serve as acting governor until Healey returns on Friday, June 30.

Since June 7, three representatives and three senators have been working behind closed doors to reconcile each branch’s roughly $56 billion budget for FY24. Massachusetts lawmakers do not have a good track record when it comes to finishing the annual budget in time for the start of the fiscal year and interim budgets like the one Healey filed Tuesday are an annual exercise.

The FY23 budget passed last year on July 28, the FY22 budget was signed on July 16, 2021, and FY21 had an especially late passage due to pandemic delays, making its final passage on Dec. 11, 2020. Pre-pandemic budgets also arrived late, with FY20 and FY19 getting former Gov. Charlie Baker’s signature on July 31 and July 26 of each year, respectively.

Ten other states that start a new fiscal year on July 1 are also still without an enacted budget, according to the National Association of State Budget Officers. They are California, Delaware, Louisiana, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

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