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

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

 

Representative Town/City Amendment, Amount
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
Representative Town/City Amendment, Amount
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

 

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