Massachusetts cannot afford to have a presidential primary in 2016 under Gov. Charlie Baker’s proposed budget, the state elections chief said Tuesday. In remarks to House and Senate budget writers, Secretary of State William Galvin flayed Baker’s proposed funding for elections in a year with no White House incumbent and an expected high voter turnout. “As you all know this country is scheduled to elect a new president next year. Apparently the governor only wants 49 states to vote, he doesn’t want this one, because he has drastically underfunded the elections budget,” said Galvin, a Brighton Democrat. Galvin’s office requested $8.1 million for elections, and Baker’s budget provides $5.7 million. Because fiscal year 2016 ends in June 2016, the outlay covers the costs of a presidential primary and his office ramping up for the fall elections. “I simply cannot run a credible election with those kind of numbers,” he said.
Galvin acknowledged there are alternatives, such as a caucus or calling for parties to pay for the primary, as some states have done. “If this were to be the final appropriation, I would suggest to you we cannot afford to have a presidential primary next year on March 1,” Galvin said.
A Baker spokeswoman said the governor proposed the same level of funding for the secretary of state’s office as the last presidential primary, along with “investments in public education and assistance for the working poor.”
“Given the $1.8 billion deficit left behind by the previous administration, belt tightening was required across state government,” said Elizabeth Guyton, Baker’s press secretary.