Skip to content




By Michael Norton


STATE HOUSE — Lawmakers broke an impasse over a spending bill Tuesday, with a six-member conference committee signing off on a $363 million budget.

The bill includes $51.5 million for emergency assistance programs that serve the homeless, $190 million for the Group Insurance Commission, $50 million for snow and ice removal costs, $34.7 million to cover public counsel costs, and $27.4 million for congregate care costs.

The bill raises the threshold of slot machine winnings necessary before players must declare their winnings for tax purposes from the current $600 to $1,200. Gaming regulators and industry officials pressed for that provision, saying it will help keep machines in play and is in line with standards in other states.

The House and Senate were in session Tuesday so the bill could potentially advance to Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk later in the day. Funds for the emergency assistance program recently ran out and state housing officials say additional funds for the program have not been identified.

Baker and legislative leaders say the spending in the midyear budget bill was factored into calculations behind efforts earlier this year to close a $768 million fiscal 2015 budget gap.

Baker and legislative leaders this year have focused almost exclusively on budget matters after the new governor arrived on Beacon Hill and inherited a budget prepared by the Legislature and former Gov. Deval Patrick that was badly out of balance.

The 74-section bill agreed to by conference committee includes language reinstating the statewide grand jury process.

The legislation also allows cities and towns to amortize this winter’s snow and ice management costs over three years, but excludes a Senate-backed provision that would have allowed the University of Massachusetts to keep the tuition it collects from students rather than return that funding to the state and seek annual appropriations from the Legislature.

The bill (H 3333) was negotiated by Reps. Brian Dempsey, Stephen Kulik and Todd Smola and Sens. Karen Spilka, Sal DiDomenico and Vinny deMacedo.

Matt Murphy contributed reporting.

Join the Conversation

We invite you to use our commenting platform to engage in insightful conversations about issues in our community. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable to us, and to disclose any information necessary to satisfy the law, regulation, or government request. We might permanently block any user who abuses these conditions.