Baker signs budget, vetoes $256 million in spending
Jul. 08, 2016
BOSTON (AP) — Republican Gov. Charlie Baker vetoed $256 million in spending Friday from the state budget for the new fiscal year.
Baker signed the remainder of the nearly $39 billion spending plan, which he called fiscally responsible in light of reduced revenue projections that are due in large part to a sharp fall-off in capital gains taxes in recent months.
The budget increases state aid to cities and towns and local school districts, the governor noted, and also adds funding for programs to fight opioid addiction and hire additional case workers in the state's child welfare agency.
Taxes would not be raised but earlier plans to deposit more than $200 million into the state's reserve fund were scuttled.
"The last few months of the fiscal year that just ended should serve as an important reminder to all of us about how important it is to maintain a state budget that lives within its means," Baker told reporters at a late afternoon news conference.
In addition to the $256 million in spending vetoes, the administration said it had identified more than $150 million in other savings.
At the same, however, the governor filed a $177 million supplemental appropriations bill on Friday, saying it would cover accounts that are underfunded in the budget, including snow and ice removal.
Among the vetoes was $30 million for state employee health insurance that would be achieved by requiring all state workers to contribute 25 percent toward their premiums. Employees hired before 2003 currently make a 20 percent contribution.
Secretary of State William Galvin said funds vetoed by Baker could make it more difficult for his office to reimburse cities and towns for the costs of implementing early voting in this fall's presidential election in Massachusetts.
The Legislature, which approved a compromise version of the budget hammered out by a House-Senate conference committee, could choose to override some or all of the vetoes. The legislative session ends July 31.
The governor also rejected or sought amendments to a number of so-called outside sections attached to the budget, items which often have little or nothing to do with state finances.
One proposed revision calls for narrowing the scope of an outside section that would require private insurers to cover long-term treatment for Lyme Disease.