BOSTON (WWLP) – The Massachusetts Senate is set to debate its version of the state budget this week.
The $46 billion Senate plan is a 5.5% increase over the prior fiscal year.
Senate budget writers say the spending plan will ensure fiscal stability and includes targeted investments to protect essential services and support an economic recovery in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
As part of the budget debate, the Senate is also expected to weigh a proposed amendment aimed at codifying abortion rights into state law.
The measure would let women obtain an abortion after 24 weeks of pregnancy in cases of “fatal fetal anomalies.” Current state law allows abortions after 24 weeks only to preserve the life or health of the mother.
It would also lower the age, to 16, at which an abortion could be obtained without the permission of a parent. Under current law, those under 18 must have at least one parent’s consent or seek judicial consent to have an abortion.
The House approved the amendment during their budget debate.
Republicans criticized Democratic leaders in the chamber for tacking on a major policy change in the budget during a pandemic.
Republican Gov. Charlie Baker declined to discuss the budget proposal Friday since it hasn’t reached his desk yet, but said he agreed with the concerns about taking up the proposal as a budget amendment.
Action on the budget was delayed by the onset of the coronavirus in the spring. Typically the new state budget is approved by lawmakers and signed by the governor by the start of the new fiscal year July 1.
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