House and Senate expected to vote on final budget Friday

Conference committee pot bill negotiations came to a halt until the state budget is complete

BOSTON (WWLP) – Lawmakers are on the brink of voting on a final budget for this fiscal year. With conference committee negotiations winding down, lawmakers are expected to vote on the spending plan as early as Friday.

July 1 marked the start of the new fiscal year for Massachusetts, but also a day of missed deadlines for lawmakers to release two crucial pieces of legislation: a pot law reform bill and the state budget.

Lawmakers have extra pressure to finish a state budget after House Speaker Robert DeLeo brought conference committee negotiations to a halt Wednesday on a bill to reform the state’s marijuana ballot law. He asked that House members of the marijuana conference committee suspend negotiations on the pot bill until the budget is complete.

“They need to get something to our desk so we can review it and respond accordingly and get going,” Governor Charlie Baker, (R) Massachusetts, told 22News.

Lawmakers passed a $5 billion temporary budget to get through the rest of the month and avoid a government shutdown while they continue negotiations on a 40 billion budget. But they may not need it for much longer.

Lawmakers face an extra challenge in compromising on a final proposal with a current revenue shortfall and uncertainty for tax revenues coming into the state in the new fiscal year.

“When you have less resources in order to be able to do all those great things you want to do in the budget, you have to try and figure out where you’re going to make up that shortfall and I think that’s the biggest challenge that we have this year,” said State Rep. Todd Smola, (R) Warren.

The marijuana conference committee is expected to continue pot bill negotiations this week.

The budget conference committee’s report will be filed Friday morning detailing the compromised spending plan.

The House and Senate are expected to vote on the budget Friday, with formal sessions scheduled in the afternoon.