By Jess Bidgood
June 13, 2011
BOSTON — There will be a lot of waiting this week on Beacon Hill. A federal jury mulls over the fate of former House Speaker Sal DiMasi, while a legislative conference committee weighs the 2012 state budget.
First, there's the wait for the jury to come back with a verdict in DiMasi's federal corruption trial. The jury is expected to begin its deliberations later today. Dimasi and two codefendents are charged with scheming to help a Burlington software company win state contracts in exchange for kickbacks.
If convicted, Dimasi could serve 25 years or more in prison.
Lawmakers will also be waiting on the federal government to declare Hampden and Worcester counties “major disaster” areas, freeing up federal funds to help with tornado recovery. Gov. Deval Patrick filed the disaster request over the weekend. In a letter to Washington, he said the storms caused $25 million in damage in Hampden county alone and damaged or destroyed close to 1,000 homes.
More: How you can help victims of the Massachusetts tornadoes
And finally, legislators and advocates alike will be waiting for the $30.5 billion state budget to come out of conference committee. The budget would make deep cuts to Medicaid, it would slash state aid to cities and towns by $65 million or about 7 percent, and it would weaken municipal employees' ability to bargain over health care benefits. After a compromise bill comes out of conference committee, it must go back to both chambers for a final vote. Then it goes to the governor’s desk, and Patrick will have 10 days to sign it and issue any line item vetoes.