FROM OUR AUGUST 2018 PRINTED EDITION
Squealing for Pork!
Boston Broadside Highlights Over $700 Million in
FY2018 Budget Amendment Spending on Questionable,
Unnecessary and Superfluous items, Driving Up the
Cost of Government to All Massachusetts Taxpayers
Some of the more notorious members of the $700 million spending club:
by Ted Tripp
Sr. Political Reporter
In this final Part 13 of our analysis of the 1210 House amendments to the FY2018 budget, we have detailed how the elected members of the Massachusetts House show little regard to controlling spending and treat money as if it comes from some unknown source without an economic reckoning.
The year-long spotlight series by the Broadside shows a system that operates on the principle: “You vote for my gazebo and I’ll vote for your gazebo.” In other words, in their club they all stick together and all spending gets approved no matter how ridiculous or outrageous the request might be. We even pointed out a budget amendment request by Rep. Colleen Garry of Dracut of “not less than $25,000 to construct a Gazebo in Dracut.” It was, of course, approved without debate and by voice vote.
If you are new to our paper, the questionable or unnecessary amendments noted here and in previous installments fall mainly into two categories. First is money on projects to favor relations within a representative’s district. This could be for a local parade or celebration, something for the senior center, a police station carport, a new water main, fixing up a park, help for the town’s “economic development,” and so forth. A favorite seems to be new radios or communication equipment for the police and/or fire departments. All of these things, of course, should logically be funded by the city or town within the rep’s district. But, hey, if you can get somebody else to pay for it like the state, while helping your reelection effort, why not go for it? Particularly if you know it’s virtually guaranteed to be approved by the Massachusetts “good-old-boy” and “good-old-gal” Beacon Hill system.
The second category regarding amendment spending is simply adding money to an existing line item in the House Ways and Means Budget or by adding a new program. The Ways and Means Committee puts together a bipartisan budget which it feels will adequately fund the state’s programs and agencies for the coming year. However, if the state reps feel more money should be spent on any part of the budget, or a new program, they simply file an amendment to add any amount of your money they feel would be nice. In the current listing, that’s what Rep. James O’Day (D-West Boylston) did when he decided to add $8,756,792 to the $250,000,000+ that was already set aside to fund the state’s university system. He just felt that this wasn’t enough. O’Day (D-West Boylston) also threw in another amendment for an additional $4,700,000 as pay raises for early educators. Hey, what’s a few million here or there.
So you see the problem. And it gets worse when it comes to heart-tugging items like special education or medical issues. You can always argue that more money is never enough for special needs students or research on Alzheimer’s, and once an amount is proposed it’s political suicide to scale back any dollars requested. Not to mention that many of these programs have well-organized and well-funded organizations or groups that will show up in your office and campaign against you if you try to cut their funding.
The process for how all these amendments get approved gets an “F” grade for accountability and transparency. The speaker takes the hundreds and hundreds of amendments that he determines are qualified to go forward (almost all the spending amendments are mysteriously qualified) and bundles them into a handful of categories such as Housing, Judicial, Public Health, Public Safety, Education, Elder Affairs, etc., which are then labeled Consolidated A, Consolidated B, Consolidated C, and so forth. These consolidated amendments are each subsequently brought before the entire House and without debate or discussion voted in an up or down voice vote in one afternoon. With no surprise, they all pass.
In one afternoon the Massachusetts Legislature approves most of the 1210 amendments to the budget that it has taken the Boston Broadside over a year to present to you in abbreviated form. Think about that. Is this the kind of government you want? Is this the kind of government you or we deserve?
Of the 160 members of the House, we could find very few who did not submit amendments to the budget which did not ask for money for a local project or to increase funding for some new or existing line item in the budget. The first name that jumped out at us was Speaker Robert DeLeo (D-Winthrop). We don’t know if his abstention was altruistic or by tradition because of his position, but it was welcome. The others who asked for nothing from the budget were Representative Geoff Diehl (R-Whitman), Representative Stephen Kulik (D-Worthington) and Representative John H. Rogers (D-Norwood).
We salute these three representatives for their restraint in watching out for the taxpayers of the commonwealth.
The 1210 amendments submitted to the FY2018 budget has grown to 1400 amendments in the current FY2019 fiscal year. We don’t know how you eventually get a handle on the problem. Do we have to wait until Massachusetts becomes ungovernable like California? Or even Venezuela?
Just a note to ponder. In New Hampshire the two-year budget is somewhat less than $12 billion and during the budget deliberation process only about 25 to 30 amendments are proposed to tweak the budget. Could this have something to do with why so many Massachusetts residents have fled, er, moved to New Hampshire?
As a reminder, in this and all previous tables we have excluded amendments that deal with veterans’ issues and the 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 the Ways and Means line item already in the budget.
If you would like to review all 1210 House amendments in detail, go to https://malegislature.gov/Budget/FY2018/HouseDebate and just click on each amendment number. ♦
Pork Sample #13 (final wrap-up): Taking Money From Workers and Taxpayers, Giving it to Pet Projects
|Adrian Madaro||Boston||Add money for Shannon Grants||$5,000,000|
|Linda Campbell||Methuen||Add money to the SAFE program||$1,200,000|
|James O’Day||West Boylston||Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Housing and support services||$4,000,000|
|Adrian Madaro||Boston||Jobs readiness program in East Boston||Not less than $75,000|
|Linda Campbell||Methuen||Add money to Meals on Wheels||$1,000,000|
|James Cantwell||Marshfield||Family Resource Center in Plymouth||Not less than $500,000|
|James O’Day||West Boylston||Add money to community college collective bargaining costs||$6,783,721|
|James O’Day||West Boylston||Reimbursement for transportation to recovery high schools||Not less than $1,200,000|
|Adrian Madaro||Boston||Quality Rating Improvement System (QRIS) for Early Education||Not less than $1,000,000|
|Paul McMurtry||Dedham||Dedham open spaces and parks study||$100,000|
|Linda Campbell||Methuen||Addd money for Hinton State Laboratory||$1,266,042|
|James O’Day||West Boylston||Pay raises for early educators||$4,700,000|
|Jose Tosado||Springfield||Massachusetts Educational Opportunity Association||$1,000,000|
|Bud Williams||Springfield||Add money for bargaining unit 8||$4,000,000|
|Bud Williams||Springfield||Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services, Inc||Not less than $200,000|
|James Cantwell||Marshfield||Add money for Lyme disease public health campaign||Not less than $500,000|
|Christine Barber||Somerville||Add money for Housing Families, Inc. in Malden||Not less than $100,000|
|Bud Williams||Springfield||Revitalize CDC in Springfield to enhance home ownership||Not less than $200,000|
|Paul Brodeur||Melrose||Wakefield economic development||Not less than $120,000|
|Russell Holmes||Boston||Add money for Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts||Not less than $400,000|
|Bud Williams||Springfield||Springfield Neighborhood Housing Services, Inc||Not less than $200,000|
|Linda Campbell||Methuen||Add money to Alternative Housing Voucher Program||$2,250,000|
|Paul Brodeur||Melrose||Add money to Prisoner Auto Tech Training Program||Not less than $250,000|
|Bud Williams||Springfield||Stone Soul Annual Community Festival||Not less than $50,000|
|Joan Meschino||Hull||Tourism for the town of Hull||Not less than $30,000|
|Linda Campbell||Methuen||Add money to Office of the Medical Examiner||$342,020|
|Chynah Tyler||Boston||Boston Carnivel||Not less than $75,000|
|Joan Meschino||Hull||School resource officers for towns of Cohasset and Hull||$253,132|
|John Mahoney||Worcester||New vehicle for the Worcester mobile library||Not less than $50,000|
|Chynah Tyler||Boston||Add money to Massachusetts Service Alliance||$750,000|
|John Mahoney||Worcester||Add money to Bottom Line||Not less than $150,000|
|John Mahoney||Worcester||Add money to deal with homeless individuals||$3,820,000|
|Tackey Chan||Quincy||Add money to Norfolk Sheriff’s Office||$4,875,084|
|Linda Campbell||Methuen||Add money to DCF Family Support and Stabilization||$2,607,045|
|John Mahoney||Worcester||To Becker College for the Massachusetts Digital Games Institute||Not less than $50,000|
|Mary Keefe||Worcester||Add money to Board of Library Commissioners||$136,795|
|Adrian Madaro||Boston||Add money to MACDC foreclosure counseling||$150,000|
|Paul Brodeur||Melrose||Transitions to Work||$250,000|
|Michael Moran||Boston||Add money to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay Mentor 2.0||Not less than $200,000|
|Michael Moran||Boston||Presentation School Fndn. Comm. Cntr. in Brighton for public safety upgrades||$500,000|
|Michael Moran||Boston||Friends of Herter Park to restore the outdoor theater||Not less than $25,000|
|Chynah Tyler||Boston||Add money for Aid to Incarcerated Mothers||Not less than $200,000|
|Nick Collins||Boston||Gang-to-College pilot program||$1,000,000|
|Russell Holmes||Boston||Add money to Public Housing Reform Account||$372,132|
|Michael Moran||Boston||Head of the Charles Regatta public safety||Not less than $150,000|
|Michael Moran||Boston||Let’s Row Boston||Not less than $100,000|
|Adrian Madaro||Boston||Add money to School-to-Career connecting activities||$2,468,763|
|Paul Brodeur||Melrose||Add money to Youth Works||$3,400,000|
|Adrian Madaro||Boston||Add money to POL’s Police Services Retained Revenue Account||$690,000|
|Daniel Cahill||Lynn||Add money to Chapter 70 distribution||$15,614,403|
|David Rogers||Cambridge||Energy conservation projects in Belmont||Not less than $50,000|
|Adrian Madaro||Boston||Add money to POL’s charge back ceiling||$2,728,210|
|Paul Brodeur||Melrose||Add money to Library Technology & Resource Sharing||$1,161,670|
|Adrian Madaro||Boston||Add money to Suffolk County Register of Deeds||$350,000|
|Joan Meschino||Hull||Hingham high school security initiative||Not less than $121,500|
|Bud Williams||Springfield||Regional economic development funding||$600,000|
|Mary Keefe||Worcester||Demonstration Workforce Development Program||$2,000,000|
|Adrian Madaro||Boston||Boston Scholar Athletes||$100,000|
|Paul Brodeur||Melrose||Add money to One Stop Career Centers||$1,290,900|
|Joan Meschino||Hull||School safety initiatives for the towns of Cohasset, Hingham and Hull||Not less than $90,000|
|Diana DiZoglio||Methuen||Higher Ed – Auto Tech Training Program||Not less than $150,000|
|Brad Jones||North Reading||Reserve to fund a study of Committee for Public Counsel Services||$250,000|
|Joan Meschino||Hull||Public safety in the town of Hingham||Not less than $50,000|
|David Rogers||Cambridge||Add money to Dept. of Environmental Prot. Admin. and Compliance||$5,591,060|
|Brad Jones||North Reading||Add money to EOPSS grant funding||$2,850,000|
|Jeffrey Sanchez||Boston||Add money to Protecting Expiring Use Affordable Housing||$5,000,000|
|Kate Hogan||Stow||Integrated pest & crop management program at UMass||Not less than $440,000|
|Joseph Wagner||Chicopee||Add money for Hampden District Attorney||$1,686,650|
|Bud Williams||Springfield||Spring of Hope Fit Body and Soul Program||$150,000|
|Paul Brodeur||Melrose||Add money to Children’s Trust||$70,457|
|Chynah Tyler||Boston||The Boston 10-point Coalition||Not less than $200,000|
|James O’Day||West Boylston||Increase funding for state universities||$8,756,792|
|Total not less than $108,041,376|