By Colin A. Young
Beacon Hill has been waiting for signs from Washington, D.C., that more federal aid might be coming and, despite long-stalled negotiations, Senate President Karen Spilka said Friday she’s optimistic that Congress will still pass another COVID-19 relief package.
Speaking to community and business leaders at the 495/MetroWest Partnership, Spilka said that the Senate’s timeline for the outstanding fiscal year 2021 budget “is being driven by knowing and hopefully understanding federal action, if any. The range of possibilities is enormous; we need clarity.”
Without attaching any dates, she said the Senate “remains committed to acting when we have the clarity that we need to enact a full year budget.” “I’m a glass half-full kind of person, I think. I don’t see how the federal government cannot provide more assistance to the states. You look at Massachusetts and we are typical, and this should not be a red state or a blue state issue, all states are hurting desperately,” Spilka said. “If we don’t get assistance, our unemployment rate will go up even higher and this is true in all states, there will be more layoffs that states will have to figure out ways for revenue.”
The Senate president said she thinks Congress might “pull it out of the hat just before the election to swoop down and say, ‘See, we were able to do it, look at what a great job we’re doing.’ ”
Earlier this week, Senate Ways and Means Chairman Michael Rodrigues said the latest news around a COVID-19 relief package “is not optimistic” and that “we’ve been pretty much told you can pretty much forget about having anything passed by Congress before the Nov. 3 election.”
Rodrigues said his hope is to have the fiscal year 2021 budget done by the end of October and that doing so without another relief package would mean “probably counting on zero dollars of federal support” and “dipping deeply” into the state’s $3.5 billion rainy day fund.