Broken political process on Beacon Hill

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On Friday, June 19th, I along with my 16 Republican colleagues in the House and 27 Democrats rejected a reckless budget, as it was light on reform and heavy on taxes.  The Budget also harms local cities and towns, as well as public safety. Disappointing 110 Democrats followed their leadership and sent it to the Governor.

The misguided solution to the fiscal crisis was to increase taxes on sales, meals, telecommunications, alcohol, satellite television, hotel stays, nursing home residents and fees at the Registry. We also break the promise of lottery revenue being dedicated to education and consume another $199 million from the state’s stabilization account. The budget also borrows from the 2011 Federal Stimulus funds to put it into balance. This is very disappointing and sets up another structural budget problem for next year.

Families are struggling to make ends meet, and if the majority of my Democratic counterparts in the House and Senate think raising every tax under the sun is going to make the lives of those families better, they are sadly mistaken. If taxes are the answer to our slow economy, it should be to lower them and let the American people stimulate the economy. Government does not need or deserve any additional tax revenue. The well publicized ethical and patronage problems within state government need to be corrected rather than additional taxation of the hard working people of Massachusetts. Sadly, it once again appears the solution to this year’s budget crisis will be to continue the spending with additional taxes to fund it.

More than all of these new taxes and a lack of reform, I am deeply concerned that the political process itself is broken on Beacon Hill. Members of the House and Senate did not receive a copy of the Budget until after 10:00pm on Thursday night and we were required to vote on the Budget, which is hundreds of pages in length, the very next day. Included in the Budget were dozens of taxes and sections which were never part of the original budget debate. Such budget items never had a hearing, public input, debate or separate vote in the Legislature.

Our political process has developed under this one-party control where only a few Legislative leaders meet behind closed doors and put out bills and budgets without hearings, debates or straight up or down votes by Legislators. It is not only disappointing that so many members of the House and Senate go along with such a corrupt political culture, but also where is the media reporting such procedural abuses? By going along with the current culture on Beacon Hill, we are eroding our system of a representative democracy and encouraging improper influences into the political process.

Additionally, the approved Budget regrettably negated several Republican adopted amendments that would have actually provided cost savings including; further raising the threshold for the Pacheco Law, implementing a prescription drug waste program that would have saved millions, selling state owned land to help balance the budget and putting Mass Health recipients into managed care, which reportedly would have saved some $160 million.

I am disappointed to say the least with the substance and procedure of this Budget.  Last year, my GOP colleagues and I voted against a budget that was bloated and unsustainable.  We said that passing that budget would have long term damage and for the lack of better terms, we were right.  Had we been more responsible in Fiscal Year 2009 and now 2010, we may not be in such a dire financial situation we are today. This is indeed a sad time for the finances and political process on Beacon Hill.

As always, I welcome your comments to or 508-888-2158.

Rep. Jeffrey Davis Perry

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