Remember legislative leaders passed a secretive $40B conference committee budget in less than one day? MassFiscal would like to give a big THANK YOU to Governor Baker for spending thoughtful time to cut the pork from their secretive scheme. Yesterday, the Governor released his budget with over 171 line item vetoes and a $320M reduction in spending. The budget is now $39.4B.
But then again, why should taxpayers be surprised. Lawmakers count on Baker to make the tough cuts. That’s probably another reason why Baker’s poll numbers are so high, he’s fiscally responsible and isn’t afraid to use his veto pen.
Baker has used the budget to show lawmakers how to decrease spending. Last year, he issued over 300 vetoes, resulting in $256M in cuts. However, the big government lawmakers, the same folks who voted for their own 40 percent pay raise in January and for Prop 80, an 80 percent tax increase, also voted to override Baker’s vetoes. They overrode and restored $231M of the $256M Baker cut. If that’s not fiscal insanity, what is.
For this year’s budget, the core of Baker’s changes were on health care related costs. In the past six years, MassHealth enrollment has increased from 1.3M to 1.9M, yet spending on the program doubled from $8.7B to $16.5B. MassHealth currently accounts for over 40% of the state’s budget.
Baker offered the conference committee a package of reforms to MassHealth in order to address the out of control spending, but they only included an increased fee on businesses and left the real reforms out. Among his amendments released yesterday, Baker insisted on including a package of reforms to MassHealth and refused a stand-alone fee increase on businesses, saying in his statement, “Absent other reforms, this proposal imposes an unfair burden on Massachusetts’ employers without making the structural reforms essential to MassHealth’s long-term sustainability. Without further action, MassHealth growth will continue to crowd out other budget priorities and corrode the commercial insurance market.” Baker has given the legislature until September 15th to address a MassHealth reform package through an open hearing process. We will have to wait to see if they will give up their precious August recess to get to work on this important and pressing issue.
Legislative leaders are expected to vote to override many of Baker’s fiscally responsible vetoes. MassFiscal will be watching and scoring how they vote. Please make sure to check for updates, more to come.
Beacon Hill legislators are shrouding their obscene pay raises as to discourage constituents from going that far into the weeds to glean the meaning behind the money grab. MassFiscal will not go quietly and allow the intentions of Speaker DeLeo and Senate President Rosenberg to go unnoticed.
This week, MassFiscal delivered tens of thousands of informative flyers to residents across the state regarding the corrupt pay raise and we are proud to say that we have made over 150,000 phone calls this year, all with the purpose of educating constituents on the activity on Beacon Hill. The unflinching advocacy campaign will not cease until the truth is revealed to every citizen in the Commonwealth.
The response from Legislative leaders has mostly been an attempt to diffuse the situation by belittling our efforts, as well as burying the bill in a sea of vague superlatives.
In response, MassFiscal asked to see payroll records for all state lawmakers from January 1 to June 1. Below, you’ll find how your lawmaker benefited from the pay raise vote, for every pay period. The truth is out.
If you like the work being accomplished on exposing the Legislative pay grab, click here to join our team.
MassFiscal wants to publicly give a BIG thank you to the ten lawmakers who voted on Friday against the conference committee’s secretive $40B budget.
The bi-partisan list of lawmakers are: Senators Sonia Chang Diaz (D-Boston), Ryan Fattman (R-Webster), State Representatives Jay Barrows (R-Mansfield), Nicholas Boldyga (R-Southwick), Geoff Diehl (R-Abington), Shawn Dooley (R-Norfolk), Peter Durant (R-Spencer), Kevin Kuros (R-Uxbridge), Jim Lyons (R-Andover), Shauna O'Connell (R-Taunton), and Keiko Orrall (R-Lakeville).
Speaker Robert DeLeo (D-Winthrop) and Senate President Stanley Rosenberg (D-Amherst) released the 327 page conference committee budget at 10 a.m. and called for a vote at 2 p.m., giving legislators scant time for study.
The conference committee irons out differences between House and Senate versions of the annual spending plan. Among the changes contained in this one were increases in employers fees to fund MassHealth and the removal of important reforms to the budget-busting state health care behemoth.
House and Senate Republicans argued that the four-hour time frame didn't allow for adequate review, and while their efforts failed, they were able to force a few roll call votes on the matter.
The lightning fast process brought to mind former Speaker Nancy Pelosi's words of advice to her Congressional colleagues so long ago: “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what's in it.” Speaker DeLeo and Senate President Rosenberg clearly took a page out of her play book this budget season.
Governor Baker has ten days to sign the budget and veto what line items he sees fit. MassFiscal will keep the public updated on what the Governor does and in the meantime, please view and share the MassFiscal scorecard to see updated votes and scores. More info at: www.MassFiscalScorecard.org.