Mass. House debates the state budget in private

House members filed more than a thousand amendments

BOSTON (WWLP) – It’s budget week on Beacon Hill. Instead of negotiating on the House floor, state representatives make their pitch to top budget writers in a small, crowded room tucked away from the public and the media.

Republican State Representative Todd Smola (R-Palmer) believes “there’s probably some improvements that could be made to that system.”

House members plan to spend three to four days debating more than a thousand amendments to the state budget. It’s a time-consuming process, but it used to take longer. State Representative Benjamin Swan told 22 News, “we used to do it one amendment at a time, one by one by one. Sometimes, it would take seven days or eight days.”

Ludlow State Representative Thomas Petrolati (D-Ludlow) believes meeting privately with top budget writers is an efficient way to advance such a large bill. He said, “the dialog in that room expedites the process. It allows us to get through this budget, get it over to the Senate and start to do negotiations.”

Many House members are choosing to withdraw their amendments instead of debating them on the floor or calling for a recorded vote. Tuesday’s budget debate is expected to last until midnight with a focus on housing and mental health.

The House version of the state budget is expected to include no new fees or taxes.

 

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