Governor Deval Patrick was hundreds of miles away from the State House yesterday, but that didn’t stop him from criticizing the Senate and accusing members of “thumbing [their] nose” at the voters by passing a 25 percent sales tax increase he has already vowed to veto.
Members of the Senate Republican Caucus could have used the Governor’s help in leading the charge against the sales tax hike on Tuesday, but he was in Washington, D.C. As Senate Minority Leader Richard R. Tisei pointed out, Patrick has a tendency to skip town at crucial times, such as when he travelled to New York last year to negotiate a book deal even as his casino gaming proposal was going down in flames. With all the time he has been spending away from the State House, it’s no wonder Patrick is becoming increasingly irrelevant, prompting Tisei to refer to him as the “incredible shrinking governor”.
One thing Patrick has been successful at, however, is filling the state payroll with high-paying positions for his friends and political supporters. As the second day of budget debate came to a close last night, the Senate adopted a Caucus amendment – authored by Assistant Senate Minority Leader Bruce E. Tarr – requiring the Governor to work with the Secretary of Administration and Finance to develop a report detailing “all action undertaken by the Executive Branch in Fiscal Year 2009, and those planned to be undertaken in 2010, to reduce the costs of employee compensation.”
In addition to itemizing all staffing, furlough and salary wage reductions, the report would also include details on any salary and wage increases and any increases in staffing levels that occurred from 2008 to 2009 and those projected for 2010. The report would be due within three months of the budget’s passage.