Bacon Hill gives little review to late budget
Once again, Bacon Hill has failed to pass the annual state budget before the fiscal year began on July 1st. Instead, they passed it nine days late amidst a culture where zoom hearings continue to be the norm, even though the pandemic has been essentially over for almost three months, and where, under normal circumstances, a routine workweek at the State House seems to be two to three days a week, at best, for legislators and their staff.
One cannot help but think that maybe if Bacon Hill worked a full week like most of the rest of us do, the budget may have been done on time. Instead, they choose to use what little time they spend at the State House justifying why the building should remain closed to the public despite that the mask mandate has long been lifted, and most other organizations have begun resuming more regular work schedules.
What is even more troubling is that the final version of the budget was out for less than twenty-four hours before rank and file legislative members were forced to cast a vote on it. I guess House and Senate leaders still have not figured out that to really win the day for the public the budget process should be a transparent and deliberate one where the peoples’ representatives have adequate time to fully review and contemplate complex legislation before they are forced to vote on behalf of the constituents they serve. But then again, House and Senate leaders are so certain the secret negotiations of the few are in the best interests of the rest of Massachusetts why bother to let the rest of the legislature weigh-in or the general public on a $48.1 billion spending plan. This has become a sad day for democracy in Massachusetts.
It is also a scary day! This secretive policy-making has resulted in fiascos such as the Blue Ribbon Commissions on legislative pay. Unexpectedly, they determined that legislative pay was inadequate. It resulted in huge bumps for leadership and the creation of more high-paying posts for the Speaker and Senate President to hand out in order for them to control the membership like sheep.
Also, buried in a state budget was a giant loophole allowing illegal immigrants to obtain Massachusetts driver’s licenses. The sheep all voted for the budget except for Representatives Shaunna O’Connell, Jim Lyons, and Geoff Diehl. However, unexpectedly, Baker vetoed the section causing some sheep to wise up to uphold the veto.
It gives me nightmares thinking about what has been stuck into this year’s budget behind closed doors that will emerge to take a chunk out of our wallets. Just in case, that doesn’t make you sleepless in Massachusetts, Bacon Hill also passed a supplemental budget last week as well.
Remember, what happens on Bacon Hill doesn’t stay on Bacon Hill.