“Battle is the most magnificent competition in which a human being can indulge. It brings out all that is best; it removes all that is base. All men are afraid in battle. The coward is the one who lets his fear overcome his sense of duty. Duty is the essence of manhood.” – George S. Patton
You may remember that earlier this year the State Integrety Project gave Massachusetts an F for the transparency of our budget process. The leaders of the House of Representatives have endeavored to ensure that we get the same grade this year.
Through two blatant maneuvers Speaker DeLeo’s team has struck a blow against transparency and openness. The first, and most egregious violation is the use of closed to the public meetings to whittle away at the over 800 filed amendments. Every day, in room 348 of the State House, members gather to debate, outside of public view, the amendments. From this process emerges so called consolidated amendments, already practically assured of passing.
The public deserves to know what goes on in this closed room. It is essential for the functioning of democracy that we know how our leaders come at their decisions. Closed door meetings lead to the appearance of corruption.
The very real question can be asked, who’s business is being done? Ours or the lobbyists who shower members with favors?
The second egregious activity of budget week is the Parliamentary maneuver of sending things to “further study”. The Democrats are afraid of taking votes on issues they know their constituents support, but they don’t.
Instead of taking a vote on these issues, they “innoculate” themselves by voting to go to study. That way when their opponent in an election says that so and so Representative voted for taxing cell phones on the suggested retail, instead of the sale price, the Representative can say, “I just thought we should study it.” It is a cowardly move.
As more Republican members have been elected to the House the budgets have become better, however the process still reeks.
It’s past time for the leaders of the House, in both parties, to demand an open and transparent process. Anything less leads to corruption.