MassGOP Priority #1: Draft An Alternative Budget

(I wholeheartedly agree with this.  It’s something I’ve been pushing for for a while. – promoted by Rob “EaBo Clipper” Eno)

While the MassGOP and House Republicans lick their wounds and try to set themselves up for more success in 2014, and maybe even the corner office, the most critical step in this process starts at the first GOP caucus in January.

The most important thing the Republican Party will do this year is draft an alternative budget (and get a vote on its passage)

First off, this shouldn’t be a “republican” budget. It’s an alternative budget meant to expose waste, fraud and other bloated spending on Beacon Hill. If Democrats want to sign on with this alternative budget, than they are more than able to, and be given every opportunity to.

Republicans lost for many reasons in 2012. I’m not going to bother going into the questions about how and why. Bringing the focal point of the discussion BACK to the budgets, where the money comes from and goes, than this can be “our” talking points.

The MassDems made a every candidate look like Todd Akin. Why? Because the last election cycle, “Republican Tea Party extremist (candidate X) ……..” However, bringing to light the budget process and proposing an alternative budget gives the Republicans (and any other lawmaker) something to stand behind.

For example, say the House Republicans propose an alternative budget that zero democrats support. Say that budget denies to illegal immigrants the ability of receiving tax-payer funded in-state tuition breaks. It gives every republican candidate a talking point in 2014. Essentially, it makes the democrat make a tough vote. If a democrat opposed the alternative budget, than s/he better be ready for the negative mailers in 2014.

Here is the way to optimize the effectiveness of this alternative budget:

-Whenever the first caucus is, the GOP needs to discuss how it will present its budget

This isn’t something that needs to be sprung on unsuspecting legislators. From day one, the House Republicans need to be discussing the strategy behind this budget. Also, it will quickly show the divide. If certain republican lawmakers chose not to partake in this process, than it will show who in the caucus is “with us” and who is “against us”.

As you can see from a previous article, I’m less than convinced real leadership will come from the House leadership. If someone who is in the minority of the minority (Jim Lyons, Mike Lombardo, Ryan Fattman, etc) proposes this to their own party, we can truly see who will support real reform and a real opposing viewpoint.

-The budget process should be over a month long, with public hearings, presentations, press releases, legislators’ amendments and more

Let’s make the alternative budget show how embarrassing the “real” budget process is. Have public hearings on it, allow legislators time to read, comprehend, and propose amendments to it. Make it all inclusive, instead of made in secret by three of four legislators.

-When finalized, offer it as an amendment to the “real” budget and get a roll call

Let as many democrats, or other State Representatives, vote against the budget. Give candidates something to talk about as they run in 2014.

Most importantly, doing the alternative budget will show the GOP is working hard for the taxpayers and is working even harder at providing an alternative viewpoint and ideas for their constituents.

The MassDems want to (and they have the money to) make every voter in the Commonwealth think that every Republican lawmaker is a gay bashing, woman hating extremist who only cares about saving fetuses and traditional marriage. This can bring the discussion back to the budget, corruption, and how we are genuinely the party of big ideas.

The biggest idea happens at the first caucus.

Matt Elder is a political consultant and Marlborough City Councilor. Follow him on Twitter @CouncilorElder

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  • edfactor

    So here is what Minority Leader Brad Jones might say:

    “Do you know how large the government and the budget is? How much paperwork is involved? Most of it is just rolled over each time with small changes across the board and several larger ones in hot areas.

    So what do you want from us? A series of small amendments that bend priorities in our direction? We already do that. They are dismissed.

    Do you want larger amendments that reshape entire agencies? That is an enormous amount of work. Even the great papers of Pioneer in some areas would have to be translated into actual legislation. That’s harder than it looks.

    Oh – you want a entire from-scratch Republican budget? That would be great, but it would take hundreds of hours and many months of work by lots of people. Then it would be treated by the Democrats like a dead animal.

    Where are the resources to do any of this? Most legislators are part-time and are doing ordinary work on their issues, fundraising, and talking to constituents. And where does the expertise come from? Think tanks? Are they going to loan us people for months on end? When a vote can’t even be promised?

    So what are the benefits to doing any of this? To motivate the public? They have never shown any interest in what happens up here. They are completely unfazed by awful corruption. Are they going to care about an alternate budget that the Democrats won’t let see the light of day?

    Maybe you just want us to criticize their entire budget. How will we do that? We are too few and no one has enough expertise. We can pinprick bad spending here and there – and we do this already – but there is no one in this caucus who can go through the budget and intelligently criticize it piece-by-piece. It isn’t like anyone elected Jim Stergios to the House.

    If you think we’re going to get all this public airing of how bad the budget is and time to present our ideas, you have no idea how the process works up here. If we yell at everything the Democrats are doing, they will stop listening to us on anything and our members will have nothing to show for their time up here. That may be what activists want, but that isn’t why most people elected us.”

    —————————–

    I don’t know if this is what Jones or Senator Tarr might say. But I think it is a fair reverse-engineering of what we actually see up there.

    Are there opportunities to attack such reasoning? I think so:

    1. New technology can help with the resource and expertise problem. A clever website with crowd sourcing of effort and crowd funding for money could produce a budget in maybe a year. We could even use the money to offer X-Prize style rewards for pieces of it.

    2. It is now possible to reach people through online channels without the Boston Globe.

    3. A daring, from-scratch budget – especially if it were done as a public project – would get the attention of the media and lots of people if it were user-friendly.

    4. The MassGOP budget could be done in a positive, constructive way that wouldn’t alienate Democrats so much as embarrass them.