$40,000,000,000 in 17 Hours

No wonder Speaker Robert DeLeo (D-Winthrop) inspires tremendous loyalty among the Democrat caucus. He's got a winning leadership strategy: More pay, less work.

After rallying the troops to pass a huge pay increase for themselves as the first order of business this legislative session, he's made quick work of the single most important piece of legislation, the House budget. 
In just two days, DeLeo and his lieutenants rammed through a budget of just over $40,000,000,000 with only 17 hours of debate allowed on the House floor. 
How quickly is $40B allocated for in 17 hours? For each second: $653,594. For every minute: $39,215,686, and for every hour of debate: $2,352,941,176.

The pace broke all speed records in the House. Between 2012 and 2016, House lawmakers engaged in three days of debate before sending the package on to the Senate. In 2011, debate lasted for four days; in 2010, five. A generation ago, budget debate would last weeks. The days of open discussion seem to be a relic of the past.

DeLeo worked behind closed doors, horse trading and consolidating, obfuscating and placating in Room 348, a private room closed to the public. In Room 348, over 1,200 budget amendments transformed into just nine consolidated amendment votes. Out of the 1,200 amendments, excluding consolidated amendments, only five standalone amendments got a straight up or down roll call vote.
DeLeo uses backroom deals, a rushed schedule, and procedural gimmicks to avoid debate and votes on good amendments. One of their favorite gimmicks, is to “study” an amendment. The studies never happen, but instead of voting on the piece of legislation, they take a vote to “study” it. 
The MassFiscal policy team tracks all the real votes, however few they are, and the Speaker’s gimmick votes. Check the updated scorecard, and search for House lawmakers and view their new scores and votes at www.MassFiscalScorecard.org


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