Monday, June 15, 2015

Statement on Supreme Judicial Court’s Opinion on Constitutionality of Senate Budget Bill

My State House office released the following statement today regarding the opinion of the Justices of the Supreme Judicial Court regarding the House of Representatives’ request for an opinion, on May 22, on whether the Senate improperly originated a money bill when it voted to approve two tax related matters in its annual appropriations bill:

“Today’s decision by the Supreme Judicial Court is timely, and will be of great assistance in the negotiations between the House and Senate regarding the Fiscal Year 2016 state budget. The opinion confirms what Senate Republicans have argued consistently in 2012, 2013, 2015 – that provisions postponing the FAS 109 tax deduction are effectively a tax increase in a given fiscal year, thus making the budget a money bill.

Unfortunately, the court has provided valuable guidance for the current budget while missing a prime opportunity to render a clear framework for the consideration of future budgets by the legislature. Left unanswered are the other issues before the court that were presented in ours and other briefs.

These issues are whether or not Article 63 of the Constitution governs the annual state budget uniquely and without regard to the Origination Clause, and whether provisions reducing taxes trigger the Origination Clause. While in the opinion touches on Article 63 in footnote 26, it does not fully explore this important issue. In the absence of the court’s guidance on these issues, they are likely to be problematic for the foreseeable future.”