PART 11: From Our June 2018 Edition
FY2018 Approved House Budget Amendments: It’s Just Money … No Debate Necessary – Part 11
Now Totaling $499 Million – Half a Billion Bucks!
by Ted Tripp
Sr. Political Reporter
In our ongoing series of amendment abuse, we are still examining the FY2018 House budget even though the House just passed a $40+ billion FY2019 budget with most of its new 1400 amendments approved without debate. We will deal with that nightmare shortly after we finish the current one. We just want to make sure that we don’t miss out on any important contributors to the FY2018 budget spending spree.
The nearby chart shows our eleventh installment of the amendment process your elected representatives go through to hike up the initial House Ways and Means budget. The total amount we have reported so far is up to $499 million and was passed on a voice vote by the House with no debate, no questions, and no problem.
What’s interesting about this group of amendments is the collection of items by Rep. Alice Peisch (D) of Wellesley. Now Wellesley is one of the richest towns in the state, yet Rep. Peisch feels she has to extract even more money from other parts of the commonwealth to help Wellesley pay for signage and other improvements in her hometown. What’s that old saying? The rich get richer and the poor get poorer? That’s it!
Rep. Peisch even put in a $1 million amendment for handicap access improvements to the Wellesley Square commuter rail station. While we might agree that this is a worthy item, shouldn’t the MBTA be taking care of this on its budget as an independent authority?
There was some good news on the budget front. Last month we mentioned the efforts of Rep. Geoff Diehl (R-Whitman), Rep. James Lyons (R-Andover) and Rep. Marc Lombardo (R-Billerica) to give some relief to the taxpayers.
This month we would like to give kudos to Rep. Shaunna O’Connell (R-Taunton). She offered up and had accepted amendments to increase the frequency of reviewing rules and regulations, enhancing public awareness through hearings of proposed tax and fee increases and requiring the MBTA Retirement Fund to make publicly available board meeting minutes on its official website.
Rep. O’Connell also filed an amendment which would prevent EBT card holders from knowingly using those cards outside of Massachusetts and its border states. The penalties were mild and ratcheted up to disqualification of cash benefits for six months on the third offense – but only after notice and a hearing.
Unfortunately, Rep. Stephen Kulik (D-Worthington) added an amendment to O’Connell’s amendment which would not allow her proposed reform to “take effect” until an extensive review is undertaken to determine its “impact on the economy of the commonwealth and its municipalities, including, but not limited to, a distributional analysis of the impact to taxpayers of varying income levels, the current practice of other states, anticipated changes in employment levels … .” In other words, Rep. Shaunna O’Connell’s EBT card reform amendment has just been put on indefinite hold. Kulik’s amended, gutted version was approved by a House vote of 124Y to 36N (see https://malegislature.gov/Journal/House; Roll Call 45 for the vote of your legislator).
It’s people like Rep. Stephen Kulik (D-Worthington) who are the reason it’s so hard to get meaningful reform in Massachusetts. Until they are voted out of office, nothing will change.
Rep. Shaunna O’Connell (R-Taunton) also filed an amendment to require applicants for state-funded public housing to provide either a Social Security number or alien registration number, and that the applicants have their criminal offender record information checked prior to admission. This common sense amendment was gutted in the same way, this time by Rep. Byron Rushing (D-Boston) who amended the original language by requiring an extensive and mind-boggling study – effectively killing it. The House vote to approve Rushing’s killing language was also 124Y to 36N (see https://malegislature.gov/Journal/House; Roll Call 41 for the vote of your legislator).
Rep. Byron Rushing (D-Boston) is another of those obstacles to good government and reform.
Just a reminder, we do not list amendments that deal with veterans’ issues and associated spending. Likewise, we have excluded amendments that deal with the opioid crisis, Narcan, drug addiction treatment and the like. Most other medical spending, generally research, has also been passed over for this analysis.
Other amendments that deal with obvious state issues like regional (non-school) transportation, general education, multi-district concerns and administrative actions have generally been left out unless they add money to a House Ways and Means line item already in the budget.
To review, House spending amendments generally consist of two types: money for local projects to incur favor with local officials and constituents, and adding money to politically/emotionally favored line item expenditures in the budget. This latter area is where the big money is added to the House Ways and Means original budget.
If you would like to review all 1218 House amendments in detail, go to https://malegislature.gov/Budget/FY2018/HouseDebate; click on FY2018 in the upper left-hand corner box, then click on House Debate, Amendments, then each amendment number.
Pork Sample #11: Taking Money From Workers and Taxpayers, Giving it to Pet Projects
|Russell Holmes||Boston||Matching program at Enrichment Center in Dorchester||Not less than $150,000|
|Joseph McKenna||Webster||Water main in Webster||Not less than $250,000|
|Brad Hill||Ipswich||Add money to beach preservation resources||$306,644|
|Kevin Honan||Boston||Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership – capital improvements||Not less than $25,000|
|James Kelcourse||Amesbury||Our Neighbor’s Table in Amesbury||Not less than $30,000|
|James Cantwell||Marshfield||Add money to Plymouth County Mental Health Referral Service||Not less than $250,000|
|Alice Peisch||Wellesley||Add money for IT grants||$300,000|
|Patricia Haddad||Somerset||Community health worker training program||Not less than $100,000|
|Claire Cronin||Easton||Turf field at Oliver Ames High School in Easton||Not less than $75,000|
|Linda Campbell||Methuen||Methuen downtown development||Not less than $200,000|
|Alice Peisch||Wellesley||Wayfinding signage in Wellesley Square||Not less than $28,550|
|Alice Peisch||Wellesley||Brook Path improvement in Wellesley||Not less than $22,000|
|David DeCoste||Norwell||Communications system for Hanover public schools||Not less than $25,000|
|Alice Peisch||Wellesley||Healthy Relationships grant program||$150,000|
|Alice Peisch||Wellesley||Make Wellesley Square commuter rail station HC-accessible (MBTA??)||$1,000,000|
|David Linsky||Natick||Study/design: new Framingham campus for MassBay Comm. College||Not less than $1,000,000|
|Linda Campbell||Methuen||Money for Cogswell School in Bradford||Not less than $75,000|
|Russell Holmes||Boston||Add money to Bottom Line for college retention services||Not less than $2,768,000|
|Marc Lombardo||Billerica||Yankee Doodle Bike Path in Billerica||Not less than $25,000|
|Gerard Cassidy||Brockton||Primary Care Workforce Dev. and Loan Forgiveness Grant Prgrm.||$500,000|
|Alice Peisch||Wellesley||Radio public service announcements during “From the Top” program||Not less than $100,000|
|Paul Frost||Auburn||Auburn Youth and Family Services||Not less than $10,000|
|Paul Frost||Auburn||Silent Spring Institute, Inc. for research||Not less than $25,000|
|James O’Day||West Boylston||Post-partum depression pilot program in selected communities||$200,000|
|Nick Collins||Boston||JFK Library Foundation||$900,000|
|Stephan Hay||Fitchburg||Add money for On Site Academy for training and treatment||Not less than $200,000|
|Michelle DuBois||Brockton||New Unfunded Student Reserve Fund to reimburse school districts||$10,000,000|
|Nick Collins||Boston||Add money to Boston Fire Dept. Training Academy||$2,487,000|
|Linda Campbell||Methuen||Methuen High School Mental Health Services||Not less than $60,000|
|Mary Keefe||Worcester||Apiary Inspection||Not less than $90,000|
|Mark Cusack||Braintree||Publick safety improvements in Braintree||Not less than $250,000|
|James O’Day||West Boylston||For the Edward J. Collins, Jr. Center for Public Management||$250,000|
|Marc Lombardo||Billerica||Billerica High School Athletic Association||Not less than $25,000|
|Nick Collins||Boston||Add money to the Public Housing Reform Account||$372,132|
|James O’Day||West Boylston||Add money to Pediatric Palliative Care||$800,000|
|Russell Holmes||Boston||MetroLacrosse located in Dorchester||Not less than $50,000|
|Stephan Hay||Fitchburg||Add money for Shannon Grant||$3,250,000|
|Alice Peisch||Wellesley||Add money to Early Educators Rate Increase||$5,000,000|
|Russell Holmes||Boston||Lena Park Community Center in Dorchester||Not less than $50,000|
|Claire Cronin||Easton||Transitional relief to the Brockton public school district||$1,500,000|
|Kate Hogan||Stowe||Massachusetts Center for the Book, Inc.||$250,000|
|James O’Day||West Boylston||Add money to Umass Medical School||$1,750,000|
|Russell Holmes||Boston||Add money to Youth in Crisis in Dorchester||Not less than $50,000|
|Total||Not less than $34,949,326|