Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Beacon Hill snoozes along

Today is May 24.

It is the 139th day of the current legislative session on Beacon Hill.

One might expect there to have been a flurry of activity in this time, given all of the problems our Commonwealth faces - especially since almost two months have elapsed since a legislative retreat to game plan policy development and leadership for this session.

Alas, no such luck.

As of today, a check of the legislative Web site reveals that only 27 bills have been passed by the Legislature and signed into law by the Governor. Of those, most fall into the category of bills to approve sick leave banks for public employees or bills authorizing/validating local action.

By our count, there have been only seven bills enacted that have any effect on the broader population, and most of them are just spending money: two supplemental budgets, a $200 million road and bridge program, acts freezing unemployment insurance rates and extending unemployment benefits, a reorganization bill and a bill on fiscal literacy.

Beyond that, we're aware that the legislature is mid-way through its FY2012 budget deliberations, and that a bill reforming probation and parole is near completion.

Overall, this is a pretty shabby record of accomplishment which, combined with the ongoing trial of the former House Speaker, is quickly driving the Legislature into irrelevance.

Here's our analysis - it's all about incumbent protection. Usually, that's accomplished by spending money on pet projects and new programs that make for good press. But, there isn't a lot of money to go around on Beacon Hill these days and (thankfully) there is no appetite for new taxes, so it's difficult to spend money. This leads Democratic legislative leaders to avoid controversial issues and fly under the radar, hoping to seize on Massachusetts Democratic turnout to sweep them back into office in the 2012 presidential election. Meanwhile, Republicans have been curiously quiet lately, despite having doubled their ranks in the House this year, leading to an overall state of peaceful tranquility on Beacon Hill.

But, this isn't leadership. It doesn't solve problems that matter. And it isn't why people elected politicians to represent them. No, we're not suggesting that Beacon Hill go on a spending spree. But we have to hope that there are at least a few good ideas floating around the Statehouse that could be pressed into action to give Bay Staters a break.

Formal legislative sessions will end just over a year from now, in July 2012. Let's hope that gives enough time for some meaningful action.

1 comment:

  1. If you drive by the Statehouse, you have to roll your windows up to keep out the snoring and the odor. We are long overdue for a PART TIME legislature and a serious cut in all the staffs that support these hacks, who are there only to feather their own nests. Look at the big balances they all have in their campaign accounts and how they spend this money for their own purposes...cell phones, internet, cable, flowers, gifts, meals, etc. etc. Let's get real....a three month part time legislature where they meet for real work, not play games. Cut the staffs by 75 %. No benefits, no pensions, no nothing. If you want to serve as a patriotic venture, so be it. But not to line their pocket. This should help balance future budgets. For the 2012 budget, all the pols are just looking for what crumbs they can bring back to their districts to keep them in office. Let's face it, these bozo's do nothing and we support them. As I said, the smell is strong and the accomplishments are scant.


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