It is amazing what standing on principle will do. In yesterday’s Boston Globe conservative columnist Jeff Jacoby praised the eight Republicans who voted against the budget.
BY VOTES so lopsided they were practically unanimous, 144-7 in the House and 38-1 in the Senate, the Massachusetts Legislature last week approved a $36.5 billion budget for fiscal 2015, the largest in state history. The puny band of Republicans who voted against the budget – Senator Robert Hedlund and Representatives James Lyons, Leah Cole, Geoff Diehl, Shawn Dooley, Ryan Fattman, Marc Lombardo, and Leonard Mirra – had no hope of changing the outcome. They didn’t even represent a majority of the negligible GOP caucus.
They did, however, take their duties as elected legislators seriously enough to not merely cast a protest vote, but also explain it. None did so more notably than Lyons and Lombardo, who wrote a 1,250-word memo detailing “Why We Voted Against the Budget,” and posted it online. The two representatives, both in their second terms, laid out seven principal – and principled – objections to the budget. Among them:
“When someone asks me, have I read the 500 pages that came out this morning? – I printed them off, I’m glancing through them,” Representative Denise Andrews of Orange said, according to State House News Service. “But I haven’t read it, and I won’t, because I believe in the process that we’re engaged in. I came in three years ago and have witnessed nothing but excellence and fiscal management from the chairman of Ways and Means and his team.”
Lyons and Lombardo, who also entered the Legislature three years ago, take a very different view of their responsibilities. “We need a vigorous clash of ideas about how tax dollars should be spent,” says Lyons, a former Democrat. “A small group of us are determined to promote a fiscally conservative philosophy, and we think if we promote it openly, the support will build.”
You don’t have to be a conservative or a Republican to appreciate that attitude – just a citizen who understands that democratic self-rule wasn’t made for unquestioning sheep, and wants a state government that understands it too.
It is time to retire Brad Jones from his leadership position. The time for aquiesence is over.