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 raises the question of whether agreements and relationships mean anything,” Jones said. “We operate in a system of do as I say not as I do.”

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.

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Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

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.