STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
WITH THE STATE’S FINANCES in disarray and the COVID-19 pandemic making it extremely difficult to predict the next 12 months, Gov. Charlie Baker on Friday filed a $5.25 billion interim spending bill that would keep government running beyond June 30 through July.
The new fiscal year is set to begin in less than two weeks, but neither the House nor the Senate have produced an annual spending proposal as they wait to gauge how severely the pandemic-caused recession will erode state tax revenues, and how slowly or quickly the economy might rebound.
House and Senate leaders have not laid out a timeline yet for completion of a budget for the full fiscal year, but Baker said the money that would be authorized in the temporary budget would be sufficient to cover government operations through July.
The bill also directs Treasurer Deborah Goldberg to make “advance payments for some or all of periodic local reimbursement or assistance programs to any city, town, regional school district or independent agricultural and technical school that demonstrates an emergency cash shortfall, as certified by the commissioner of revenue and approved by the secretary of administration and finance, pursuant to guidelines issued by the secretary.” And it extends capital spending accounts that would otherwise expire at the end of the fiscal year.
The House and Senate have seven business days to pass the bill, but were expecting its filing and could act as soon as next week.
Gov. Baker filed a $44.6 billion annual budget in January, but some economists have predicted that tax revenues in fiscal 2021 could come in as much as $6 billion short of the estimates used to build that budget.