Baker hits the way the House passed abortion measure
Says lawmakers had promised to keep policy initiatives out of budget
GOV. CHARLIE BAKER on Friday declined to say whether he supports or opposes the abortion access measure passed by the House on Thursday, but he indicated he did not like the fact that it was approved as an amendment to the state budget.
Baker said he typically does not comment on bills making their way through the Legislature because they tend to change before they reach his desk. But he said he did have some concerns about the way the abortion measure was passed.
“I do share some of the unhappiness that was raised by a number of members of the Republican Party that putting policy in the budget was something that both leaders in the House and Senate said they would not do. And it’s pretty hard to argue that this isn’t a major policy initiative now in the budget,” he said at a State House press conference.
Rep. Brad Jones of North Reading, the leader of the House Republicans, raised the issue during debate on the abortion amendment Thursday night. He said House leaders had told him there would be no policy issues in the budget and then went ahead and included the abortion measure anyway.
It appears the abortion legislation had been in the works for some time.
Rep. Claire Cronin of Easton, who drafted the abortion amendment, said House Speaker Robert DeLeo decided to push for the legislation shortly after Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on September 18. DeLeo and Senate President Karen Spilka said on November 2 that they intended to hold debates in their chambers on abortion legislation sometime during the remainder of the lame duck session. Last week, DeLeo indicated policy debates would not be a part of the budget deliberations, but earlier this week announced that the abortion measure would be taken up as a budget amendment.The governor on Friday said his administration took all kinds of policy initiatives off the table in crafting its budget proposal because the goal was to quickly pass a budget that is already nearly five months late.
“The message was we need to do this quickly, it needs to be done collaboratively, we’re not going to do policy in the budget,” Baker said. But the governor said that all changed this week. “This is definitely doing policy in the budget,” he said.