Despite Transparency Push, Budget Talks Likely to be Private

massachusetts state houseBOSTON (AP) — When a handful of Massachusetts lawmakers convene in the coming weeks to negotiate a final version of the $39.5 billion state budget, they will most likely follow tradition by doing so behind closed doors.

Conference committees that are appointed by legislative leaders to resolve differences between the House and Senate over bills generally elect to meet privately. The Legislature is exempt from the state’s open meeting law.

A six-member conference committee that reached agreement this past week on a bill to overhaul the state’s open records law chose to meet in public, prompting speculation that more such panels might do the same in the future.

Democratic Senate President Stan Rosenberg says he supports greater transparency. But he says the complexity of the budget and the extent of differences between the two chambers would make public negotiations difficult and possibly delay passage of the spending plan.

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