By Matt Murphy | State House News Service

The House passed a budget Thursday night for the fiscal year that begins July 1 that would authorize more than $42.7 billion in spending, including significant new investments in elementary and secondary education, while also avoiding any significant tax increases.

The vote for the budget was 154-1, with Democrat Rep. Russell Holmes of Mattapan casting the lone dissenting vote in a branch that also includes 32 Republicans and one independent.

Over the course of four days of deliberations and sporadic floor debates, House lawmakers added nearly $71 million to the spending plan first laid out two weeks ago by the House Ways and Means Committee. They also made changes to Gov. Charlie Baker’s proposal to let MassHealth negotiate cheaper drug prices with pharmaceutical manufactures and adopted a plan put forward by Rep. William Straus to open up a new market in Massachusetts for the processing of shell-on lobster parts.

This was the first budget put together by North End Democrat Rep. Aaron Michlewitz, and House Speaker Robert DeLeo on Thursday night called it an “excellent piece of work.” “The week has gone relatively smoothly and they deserve congratulations,” Second Assistant Majority Leader Michael Moran told his colleagues as the fourth day was winding to a close, referring to Michlewitz and the committee staff.

Most of the action during the week took place in the House Members’ Lounge where lawmakers pitched leadership on pet projects and priorities that led to large, consolidated amendments loaded with earmarks for legislators’ districts

The House also voted Thursday for Minority Leader Brad Jones’s plan to expand a land conservation tax credit, which allows landowners to get a tax break if they donate property to the state for preservation, and tweaked the pricing requirement for the next solicitations for off-shore wind power.

In all, the House considered 1,369 amendments over the course of the week, and will now wait to see how the spending plan is received by the Senate in May before negotiations between the branches begin.

*This Article was published on on April 26, 2019