Approved House Budget Amendments: It’s Just Money … No Debate Necessary – Part 1

by Ted Tripp

Sr. Political Reporter

In the weeks and months leading up to the Massachusetts FY 2018 House budget this spring, representatives from across the state proposed 1,227 amendments. Most of these had to do with getting money for some project within their district so they could curry favor with voters – which usually turns out to be very helpful on Election Day.

A small number of the amendments were rejected or withdrawn or individually accepted. The vast majority, particularly those involving more money for some pet project or budget item, were all bundled into a handful of consolidated amendments which were passed with no debate during the two days the budget was on the floor of the House for discussion.

The $40+ billion final House budget with all this extra spending passed 159 to 1. Only Representative Jim Lyons of Andover voted against this bloated bill.

So, how do all these earmarks and additional spending pass muster, even with some of the conservative Republicans? It’s easy. You vote for my gazebo and I’ll vote for your gazebo. It’s a time-honored tradition in Massachusetts and I don’t know how you break the cycle. The problem is that it gets worse every year and the political leaders are always crying that there is never enough money, so taxes have to be raised.

As a public service, the Boston Broadside will begin a series here showing you where your tax dollars are going to local projects when those towns and cities should be funding those items themselves. Why should somebody in Watertown be paying for a gazebo in Amesbury? It makes no sense.

We will also show where representatives feel the amount for some item in the budget is not funded sufficiently and they want to add thousands – often millions – of dollars more than originally set aside.

Nearby is the beginning of how this amendment money affects the budget. These first 41 items are just the tip of the iceberg, but you can see they involve significant funds. Also remember as you view these that they do not necessarily reflect the final amounts as the Senate has to weigh in and the governor has to sign the eventual conference committee document. But you can bet your last tax dollar that most of these amendment outlays will survive the process.

Note that many of the amendments are written with the preface, “Not less than …” and dollars seem to be treated as coming from a bottomless pit.
   

Pork Sample #1: Taking Money From Workers and Taxpayers, Giving it to Pet Projects (more next issue)

Representative Town/City Amendment Amount
Michael Day Stoneham Restore the Aberjona Riverbank in Winchester Not less than $50,000
Michael Day Stoneham Wayfinding signage in Stoneham Not less than $90,000
Michael Day Stoneham Adding funds for Zoo New England $2,400,000
Cory Atkins Concord Adding funds for 11 MA visitor information centers Not less than $450,000
Carmine Gentile Sudbury To Sudbury to purchase CSX land for rail trail Not less than $700,000
Patricia Haddad Somerset Swansea’s 350th Anniversary Celebration Not less than $100,000
Patricia Haddad Somerset Swansea Beach Revitalization  Not less than $100,000
Todd Smola Warren Old Sturbridge Village $50,000
Carmine Gentile Sudbury MetroWest Free Medical Program Inc. Not less than $100,000
Ann-Margaret Ferrante Gloucester Public art displays for LuminArtz Not less than $25,000
Josh Cutler Duxbury To Pembroke for cultural and recreational programming Not less than $25,000
Josh Cutler Duxbury To Duxbury for Senior Center improvements Not less than $50,000
Jay Livingstone Boston Boston Landmarks Orchestra, Inc. Not less than $75,000
Jay Livingstone Boston Improve Magazine Beach in Cambridge Not less than $150,000
Josh Cutler Duxbury To Hanson for management of Wampatuck Pond Not less than $20,000
Mathew Muratore Plymouth Explore Natural Plymouth Not less than $207,000
James Cantwell Marshfield Additional funds to promote enviromental health $200,232
Cory Atkins Concord Marketing/promotion of regional tourist councils $4,200,000
Gerard Cassidy Brockton To Brockton to repair the Crosby  Admin. Building Not less than $225,000
Mathew Muratore Plymouth Plymouth 400, Inc. for Pilgrim landing anniverary $500,000
Josh Cutler Duxbury To Pembroke for pond management Not less than $25,000
Josh Cutler Duxbury To Hanson for economic development Not less than $35,000
Tricia Farley-Bouvier  Pittsfield Peer support programming at Crane  Center in Pittsfield Not less than $75,000
Angelo Puppolo Springfield Wilbraham Nature and Cultural Council Not less than $50,000
Angelo Puppolo Springfield New England Public Radio in Springfield Not less than $150,000
Angelo Puppolo Springfield City Stage of Springfield Not less than $100,000
Angelo Puppolo Springfield The Spirit of Springfield, Inc. Not less than $100,000
Angelo Puppolo Springfield Dispute Resolution Services, Inc. of Springfield $75,000
Aaron Vega Holyoke Recreational improvements at McKenzie Field in Holyoke $50,000
William Driscoll Milton To Milton for playground repairs at Andrew’s Park Not less than $20,000
William Driscoll Milton Randolph Economic Opportunity Center Not less than $30,000
Marjorie Decker Cambridge Adding funds to Valuing Children Equally $11,500,000
Hannah Kane Shrewsbury Celebration of the 300th anniversary of Westborough Not less than $50,000
Paul Mark Peru Faculty Access and Investment Fund; for more faculty $25,000,000
John Scibak South Hadley Learning achievement for youth program in Amherst Not less than $50,000
John Scibak South Hadley Culinary arts program for South Hadley High School Not less than $250,000
Thomas Walsh Peabody 100th Anniversary of the City of Peabody Not less than $25,000
Marjorie Decker Cambridge Add money to Assistance for Families in Transition $3,500,000
Lori Ehrlich Marblehead Maintenance of Red Rock Park in Lynn Not less than $55,000
Lori Ehrlich Marblehead Cleanup of algae on beaches  in Lynn Not less than $50,000
Lori Ehrlich Marblehead Self Esteem Boston; service and training programs Not less than $150,000
    Total Not less than $51,057,232

 

                

 

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