Paul Feeney (Left) and Jacob Ventura (Right) On Tuesday, the primary to fill the state senate seat once held by Senator James Timilty (D-Walpole) was held and Paul Feeney (D-Foxboro) and Jacob Ventura (R-Attleboro) won their primaries. Ventura is an attorney, former legislative aide to state Rep. Steven Howitt (R-Seekonk), and if elected would be the second native American elected in Massachusetts. Feeney is a union boss, and former Bernie Sanders surrogate. Feeney’s campaign has been funded by unions, including many out of state unions. Feeney is the first local candidate since Marty Walsh in 2013 to use the union loophole to fund his campaign. Since Walsh’s campaign for Mayor in 2013, Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance board members Rick Green and Mike Kane, have filed a lawsuit against the state to close the loophole. The lawsuit is expected to reach the state Supreme Judicial Court. The union loophole prohibits employers from contributing to state candidates and campaigns while allowing unions to donate up to $15,000. Individuals are only allowed to donate up to $1,000. Last week, MassFiscal filed a complaint with the Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF) against Feeney’s campaign. According to Feeney’s last OCPF report, the campaign received two union donations of $5,000 each. Feeney had approximately $20,000 cash on hand going into the Democratic primary. Massachusetts is the most lopsided state in the country for how unions and employers are treated in state campaign finance law. Our hope is that OCPF will administratively close the loophole, which would drop the lawsuit, save taxpayer money, and prevent another tainted election. The general election to the fill the seat is scheduled for October 17 and we hope OCPF will act swiftly.read moreThe plan: 61 Votes totaling $275 Million in overrides. House Ways and Means Chair Jeffrey Sanchez (D – Boston) plans on leading his colleagues in the House in overriding $275M out of $320M of the Governor’s vetoes through the FY2018 budget process. Yesterday, the House met to start the override process and according to Speaker DeLeo (D - Winthrop), this process will take weeks. Rep. Sanchez outlined his plan before the chamber as being a positive approach to budgeting and fiscal responsibility. Let’s break down the numbers. In July, the legislature passed the FY2018 budget, totaling $40B. Just before the bill passed, the Boston Herald reported that the state ended the fiscal year with $400M in budget deficits. Governor Baker made $320M in cuts in over 160 budget vetoes, warning the legislature that not only was the spending plan irresponsible, but the conference committee who created the budget in secret already underfunded some accounts by a total of $198M. As of today, tax collections are up about $60M this year over the same period last year. However, the benchmarks by which Rep. Sanchez and the leadership made their budget projections are still down by $11M. This is because they projected a 2.9% growth rate in tax collections whereas the past 2 years, tax collections have seen no more than 1.4% growth. The House continues to over budget based on wildly ambitious projections, grounded in nothing but hope. House Republican Minority Leader, Brad Jones (R – North Reading) strongly recommended that the House wait until October to have a more substantive conversation about the budget. His recommendation was turned down as quickly as it was brought up. The House plans on meeting again to continue to restore money we don’t have to the budget. The Senate, still on recess since Senate President Stan Rosenberg is traveling out of country, will return at the end of the month. We will be updating our scorecard with the new votes as the House and Senate meet to vote on the overrides.read more
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