New Legislative Session Begins With ‘Different Political Dynamic' in Massachusetts

As they exited their first meeting of 2019, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Karen Spilka put up a cohesive front.

"We will be working and working together to get the job done," Spilka said.

But the buzz on Beacon Hill is that the relationship between the chambers could become contentious.

Spilka is calling for bold action in response to constituent frustrations with small and incremental change — a veiled reference to the leadership of Baker and DeLeo. Baker's response?

"I would argue the last four years have been bold in many ways," he said.

Baker points to work on Bridgewater State Hospital, the opioid epidemic and gun legislation as proof of strong change, but others feel clashes are coming.

"It is going to be a challenging year, because you do have a different political dynamic," said Arline Issacson, Exec Director of the Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Political caucus.

Rep. Patrick Kearney of Scituate is a freshman lawmaker who hopes the two chambers will be able to work together.

"I think that the stigma around both houses fighting each other, it needs to stop," Kearney said. "I think that words like 'clashing' makes it sound like it's a battle."

One measure of just how bold lawmakers will be is whether they will support new taxes.

Baker has said no to new taxes, but some lawmakers feel the time has come.

"I'm hopeful we can raise taxes, progressive taxes, to invest more in the transportation system," argued Acton Sen. Jamie Eldridge.

Spilka has shown definite interest.

"I have stated before that I think that it might be time to look at some of our tax structure," she said.

DeLeo could be the tiebreaker.

"Obviously, you all know, I am not a fan of any broad-based taxes," he said.

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