Thursday, March 31, 2011

On the road again

Between the two of us, we spent almost a decade up on Beacon Hill watching everything that went on very closely.

We think we know a lot about Beacon Hill politics. But sometimes, even we scratch our heads when we see what's happening there now.

Today is one of those times.

There is an Associated Press story in today's Boston Herald that reports state lawmakers are heading to western Massachusetts this afternoon for a two-day retreat. They reportedly plan to discuss economic policy and talk strategy for the upcoming session.

Are you kidding? Really, guys?

That's right. It might not be Deval Patrick this time, but Massachusetts politicians are once again on the move. Somebody cue Willie Nelson for a little traveling music, please...

"...On the road again
Like a band of gypsies we go down the highway
We're the best of friends
Insisting that the world keep turning our way..."

We pause for a moment to give legislators credit for at least having the foresight not to pay for this pajama party using state funds. Thank goodness for that. Let the pillow fights begin.

We even admit that a retreat like this might conceivably be a good idea, particularly if it were for new legislators (as is customary). But it's not.

Here's what's wrong with it:

It strikes us as incredibly odd that lawmakers are just now deciding to meet to figure out who's on first when it comes to state economic policy and how to run committees responsible for the fate of thousands of bills. We're approaching the fourth month of a two-year legislative session. It's time for action.

It also amazes us that lawmakers claim they are retreating to western Massachusetts to hear from economic analysts about how bad our state economy is – less than 24 hours after spending more than $300 million on supplemental spending. Call us crazy, but maybe they should have talked to economists before spending money? Frankly, we don't want to hear it if they come back from the retreat and tell us the economy is so bad that we need new taxes or fees, or that there's no more money for local aid.

Also, Saturday is just two days away. We don't want to conflict with anybody's plans, but might this fantastic getaway have been planned for the weekend? And, not for nothing, but couldn't they just do this at the Statehouse?

Seriously, guys. Seriously. Time to get to work.

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