The Legislature recently broke for the summer after speeding through the FY18 budget, leaving some important items undone among the wreckage of pay raises, pet projects, and tax hike plans.
The massive 40 percent legislative pay hike remains the big story from Beacon Hill this year. Even dodging their responsibility to reform MassHealth can't compete, but I'll get back to that story in a minute.
Let me tell you why the pay grab is still timely, even now. The total price tag on the package is estimated at $18 million dollars. Funny enough, that's the same amount lawmakers claimed state coffers needed desperately when they eliminated the traditional sales-tax-free weekend. Which would traditionally occur right about now.
So Massachusetts retailers are going to miss out on a Dog Days boost in sales. And Massachusetts consumers have no added incentive to make a significant purchase. Everyone loses.
Except the Legislators. They got theirs.
Back to MassHealth, the state-sponsored health care plan that gobbles up a whopping 40 percent of the state budget. Governor Baker's reforms, aimed at controlling the budget buster, were tabled for another day, although the legislature managed to levy a hefty new tax on business owners to feed the monstrous mess.
The Beacon Hill game also managed to fit in another vote advancing Prop80. Prop80, a proposed constitutionally amendment creating a graduated income tax, would raise taxes on the state's top producers by 80 percent.
Many Legislators are headed back to their districts to face questions on the pay grab. MassFiscal's education campaign has mailed to more than 390,000 people. Many of those people were shocked to learn that their Representative or Senator, or both, put their own bank accounts and retirement portfolios ahead of the important business of the Commonwealth.
Accountability is important. And without MassFiscal advocacy spreading the word on the Legislature's questionable priorities, our elected officials wouldn't have to answer for their choices. With more than 390,000 mailers out this summer, we are just getting started.