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Trump conviction takes back seat in Mass. as legislators tackle bills on deadline

Massachusetts Legislators Sen. Michael Rodrigues and Rep. Aaron Michlewitz at a tax package press conference in September, 2023.
Sam Doran
/
State House News Service
Massachusetts Legislators Sen. Michael Rodrigues and Rep. Aaron Michlewitz at a tax package press conference in September, 2023.

National political pundits are arguing about the impact of former President Donald Trump's conviction. Will it have any impact at all in dependably blue Massachusetts?

Following former President Donald Trump's conviction on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in a lawsuit heard in New York, the Massachusetts GOP is calling the verdict "political prosecution." Reporter Chris Lisinksi at the State House News Service says he is not hearing anything about this impacting any local or state elections.

Chris Lisinski, SHNS: No, but it certainly could come up as an issue on the campaign trail, especially in the U.S. Senate race where Elizabeth Warren is seeking reelection, and we'll have to fend off some GOP challengers.

But it's not going to be that much of an issue here at the local level. You might hear some candidates talk about it. You might hear some Democrats try and paint their GOP opponents, as being in the camp of a now convicted felon former president. But I don't think it's going to be a real deciding factor because we have our own issues to worry about here, right at the state level.

Carrie Healy, NEPM: And at the state level, the Legislature is organizing a conference committee to reconcile differences between House and Senate budget proposals. We've discussed some of the thorny issues that they still need to wade through, including whether to provide free community college for all and how to spend millionaire tax revenues. But, looking at the House lawmakers appointed to the committee, does that give you any indication of where the legislature will land on some of these issues?

Not terribly so. What we do know is that, like is always the case with these budget deliberations, they'll be led by the Ways and Means Committee chairs: Representative Aaron Michlewitz and Senator Michael Rodrigues. They're the ones who are largely responsible for drafting each branch's underlying budget. And what that says to me, is that each branch is putting their top deputies on the topic; the ones who have the ears of House Speaker Ron Mariano and Senate President Karen Spilka, respectively, and are most trusted with executing what Mariano and Spilka want. They're going to have to find a middle ground on some of these issues, but the way they're setting up the negotiations is each branch is really putting out its top deputies from the get go.

And don’t both men have a long history of creating these reconciled budgets?

Yes, they absolutely do. I believe that this will be the sixth, maybe the seventh budget that Michlewitz and Rodrigues have overseen together. And keep in mind that in that span, they have not worked particularly quickly. They have definitely produced some late budgets, only wrapped up after the fiscal year it would cover, actually begins.

And will a budget negotiating session happen while other House and Senate lawmakers are off tackling the bills that have been put off dealing with energy policy, health care, housing and all the other topics. I mean, not a lot of time left in the legislative session. So do these things go on simultaneously?

We have to imagine that they do. Keep in mind that what we think of as budget negotiating sessions are very rarely actually all six negotiators sitting down around a table going line item by line item.

We kind of get the sense that it might be more trading proposals back and forth. They are going to have to multitask given how much is left to do at this point in the calendar. And that's something that they're used to. You know, two years ago, when we were also right at the tail end of a legislative term, budget negotiations were going on at the same time as conference committee negotiations on several other bills, often involving the exact same negotiators leading those talks on different topics.

Carrie Healy hosts the local broadcast of "Morning Edition" at NEPM. She also hosts the station’s weekly government and politics segment “Beacon Hill In 5” for broadcast radio and podcast syndication.