A day after colorful but ominous skies led to not-quite-tornados-at-all, there's a deepening concern on Beacon Hill that state lawmakers may not finish work on their budget legislation before the start of the 2016 fiscal year.
The House and Senate are still working through a six-member conference committee to polish off a bill they've been working on since moments after passing last year's budget.
While the House and Senate hammer out a compromise bill to put on his desk, Gov. Charlie Baker isn't taking any chances keeping state services funded. He signed a pre-approved $5.5 billion temporary budget Wednesday just in case dilatory lawmakers drag their feet past the July 1 deadline.
House Speaker Robert DeLeo wouldn't make any promises when he spoke to reporters after a Democratic caucus at the State House. DeLeo said he's hopeful the negotiation committee lead by House Ways and Means Chairman Brian Dempsey (D-Haverhill) and his Senate counterpart Sen. Karen Spilka (D-Ashland) will complete their work on time.
DeLeo asked reporters gathered around him Wednesday afternoon if they had heard of Cal Ripken Jr. and knew what the athlete is famous for. Ripken holds the Major League Baseball record for consecutive games played with a streak of 2,632.
"For six years I've had a streak of doing budgets before July 1," DeLeo said. "Whether or not that's going to continue I'm not so sure."
For the most part, DeLeo was right: Since he took over the House in 2009, the body has passed its budget before July each year, except in 2012 and 2014, when debate continued into the deadline day of July 1.
"The thing you learn about budgets is the fact that sometimes when you least — when you sometimes don't expect it, there's a break that can occur at any time," DeLeo said.
The speaker is remaining firm on his pledge from years past not to include new taxes in the budget. This puts him at odds with the Senate's version, which does add some minor taxes, but more importantly would freeze the income tax rate at 5.15 percent. So the two chambers have some work to do.
WGBH State House reporter Mike Deehan will be on the scene if there are any giant bags of money or tigers introduced to the floor as part of the legislature's budget debate.