Spending Spree in the State Senate
By Katie Lannan
State House News Service
BOSTON -- The Massachusetts Senate unanimously passed a $41.49 billion spending plan for fiscal 2019 in the early morning hours Friday.
Senators tacked on $75.5 million in spending through amendments in their three days of debate, according to the Ways and Means Committee, which said the budget includes $88 million for regional transit authorities, $156 million for emergency assistance family shelters, and $4.91 billion in Chapter 70 education funds.
A conference committee will reconcile differences between the Senate budget and the $41.065 billion bill the House passed last month.
“Believe it or not, I’m wide awake,” Senate Ways and Means Chair Karen Spilka said after the bill passed at 12:38 a.m. “It is early. The night is still young.”
Spilka, an Ashland Democrat who is expected to ascend to the presidency later this session, thanked Senate President Harriette Chandler for setting the tone for a “healthy, wonderful” debate.
Chandler, in remarks to the chamber at the end of the night, thanked her colleagues for showing respect and strength. A Worcester Democrat who took over as president when her predecessor, former Sen. Stan Rosenberg, stepped down amid sexual assault allegations against his husband, Chandler said the Senate has gone through “some challenging moments.”
“I won’t let anybody say the Senate is in chaos, that we’re confused, that we have no stability,” she said. “We are strong, we are going forward.”