Massachusetts House and Senate lawmakers meet in formal session for several months a year, but just about every time, they seem to save the best for last —racing against the clock to pass a slew of bills, just under the legislative deadline.

This year was no different, with lawmakers passing a slew of bills, among them to combat the opioid epidemic, establish a short-term rental tax and promote economic development. But legislation aimed at equalizing education funding and stabilizing health care costs are among those that did not make it to the governor’s desk.

Senate President Karen Spilka, who last week became the new head of one of the state’s legislative bodies, joined Jim Braude to discuss what was and what was not accomplished. The following transcript has been edited for clarity.

Jim Braude: Why did you want the job?

Senate President Karen Spilka: I believe that my background, starting out as a social worker and then, I think you know, I was a labor and employment attorney, but then an arbitrator mediator as well. So, my background is listening, actively listening to people, bringing them together, and working through issues to bring them to consensus.

Braude: Can we talk about a couple of issues where I think you're going to try to bring him to a consensus? I know they're on your priority list. Transportation — you said you were upset when the millionaire's tax was knocked off the ballot by the Supreme Judicial Court — would have provided a billion dollars a year roughly for education and transportation funding. What's the backup plan for transportation money?

Spilka: Right now, honestly, we don't have one. I think that we really need to look at what we need and have a plan — a both short-term and long-term plan. I know I come in through the Pike and people think that the Pike is among the best highways in the state. It used to take me 45 minutes, it often takes me two hours each way now. We need a better plan. We need for not only roads and bridges but trains and public transportation.

Braude: Charlie Baker thinks it can be done with no new money. Is he right?

Spilka: I'd like to hear his plan.

Braude: Do you think he's right, based on what you know? You were the Ways Means Chair, you know the budget. Can it be done with existing revenues?

Spilka: I think we might need some new revenues. I think that we need a combination. We have done some reform. I'm always open to discussing more, and efficiencies, but I think that we really, in terms of our economy, quality, of life and so many other issues, we need to focus on our transportation.

Braude: Can we talk about another item — actually, the other half of where the money would have gone — education fairness and leveling the playing field? This sort of how you get your start in politics, wasn't it, back home?

Spilka: Yeah. Yeah.

Braude: So, I assume now we got to wait until next January before something starts up again on this inequity between the Brocktons and the Westons and all that. Is that what we got to do?

Spilka: Well, I don't think we have to wait until next January. In the budget, we did start implementing the Foundation Budget Review Commission's recommendations, which included four major topics to increase the adequacy in funding. Years past, we looked at equity, predictability and made it simpler — believe it or not, it still is complex. But they adequacy eluded us for all these years. So, even though we did not have the money from the millionaire's tax, even though we hadn't passed the bill, we started implementing it, and we implemented several of the items.

Braude: This drives me nuts, I have to be candid — I cannot understand why a full-time Legislature goes home with five months to go. I know there are informal sessions, but formal sessions — whether it's the education bill, the fact that, from what I read, horse racing is shut down because you didn't meet a deadline, hospital financing —wouldn't a sane approach be, we just keep doing this since we're paid, until we fix it and not have this arbitrary, let's go home on July 31st thing?

Spilka: Well I look at it, and you ticked off a bunch of the things that we did accomplish, and that I think the legislature and the state can be very proud. We will lead the nation in many of the areas and some in economic development, clean energy, opioid addiction. We usually have things left on the table. Two years ago, the same thing happened. But I do believe we can and have to do better. I think the people of this state expect it. So, whether we get things earlier upfront if we know we have this deadline so we're not at this crash at the end or — I think I'm looking forward to working with Speaker Bob DeLeo, my colleagues, and others to try to make some changes.

Braude: Changes being, maybe two years from now in an election year you would not go home on July 31st? Is that one of the changes you'd consider?

Spilka: I think everything has to be on the table, but people do need to go back. Many people have primaries, which this year is the day after Labor Day.

Braude: You need five months to run? The primary is a month from now.

Spilka: Right, so if they've been working up until July 31, they'll have just August to campaign.

Braude: So, speaking of Bob DeLeo, DeLeo tweeted out that he was disappointed that you did not agree to bring the Senate into session — you have a smile on your face — the Saturday before this July 31 deadline. You tweeted back that you thought you had sufficient time to finish the key issues. You didn't have sufficient time to finish the key issues. Do you regret your decision not to…

Spilka: Not at all.

Braude: …call your members in?

Spilka: Not at all.

Braude: Why?

Spilka: First of all, I had no idea that he expected that or thought that we were coming back. Last year, we did 70 or 80 overrides in one day. He said that before the governor came out with his vetoes. We had a total of 55. So, I knew that we would do them. The House has to do them first. So, I figured the ones that they did on Friday we could get done in an hour and a half, and we did. We did them Monday morning. We got all of the work done so by Monday night we were caught up. And I just want to add, it allowed the conferees and the meetings — people who were working on the bills to actually meet and get more work done.

Braude: Does it aggravate you that he did what he did, tweeted out what he said?

Spilka: I just, I'd rather not communicate by tweets. I am a person-to-person direct communication person.

(Editor’s note: Speaker DeLeo did not tweet out the complaint, but rather made a statement that was tweeted out by WGBH State House Reporter Mike Deehan, an error for which Jim issued a correction the following evening.)

Braude: Speaking of direct communication, you were on Channel 5 or something. You've endorsed Jay Gonzalez, am I right about that?

Spilka: Yes.

Braude: But you said of Charlie Baker, Republican governor, [in] a lot of ways he's doing a good job. Marty Walsh, another Democrat, said he has incredible accomplishments. Bob DeLeo, another Democrat, has praised his work. If Baker's doing such a good job, why should the voters fire him in November?

Spilka: I am a Democrat and I do have democratic values and beliefs, and I believe that there are some differences. There are many things that Governor Baker has done and accomplished, working with the Legislature.

Braude: Where's he failed? Where are the things — where's his failure so that in your estimation Jay Gonzalez would do a better job?

Spilka: Well, for one thing, I wouldn't say that he's failed necessarily, but for example transportation. You know I do — I did support the millionaire's tax because I believe that we need to invest the billion dollars in education and billion in transportation. Education, we need to continue to move it forward. There are too many with the achievement gap in so many cities and towns across the state. That hasn't changed in 20 years since education reform. We need to do better on that.

Braude: So, has he failed on that issue, Charlie Baker? I mean, again it's a big deal to say, throw out the guy that's there who I think is doing well and elect somebody new. I mean, I assume there are some major failures or no?

Spilka: You know right now I think that there are differences in values and things that we push for.

Braude: Then that's my last thing. Will you challenge — I think it's fair to say Democrats could pass anything they want and override any gubernatorial veto, you have that many members. Under your leadership, will Democrats on Beacon Hill challenged the Republican governor more than he's been challenged in the past?

Spilka: We'll have to — first of all, we'll have to see if he is governor in the future. But it'll have to be on a case by case basis. I'm not going to challenge somebody just for the sake of challenging them either. I believe in working together with whoever ends up in the corner office. It's important. Massachusetts has been a leader. It would be great if Washington took a lesson from Massachusetts and Beacon Hill in this area.

This article has been updated.