Senate Budget Debate Resulted in just One Unique Vote

Only compared to the House's budget debate quickie could the Senate's three days of debate seem like cautious deliberation, but that's how things roll on Beacon Hill--like a car with square wheels.
Senators filed 1,031 amendments in all, or roughly 26 amendments per. The leadership created three back-room bundles of consolidated amendments out of some of the 1,031 and then called for only 32 recorded roll call votes. Last year's number, 48, starts looking awfully transparent. But here’s the kicker: of those 32 recorded votes, all but one were unanimous. Outside of unanimous roll call votes, leadership used countless unanimous voice votes to consume the day.
Unanimous votes say a couple of things to Senate watchers. First, a unanimous vote on an omnibus package containing perhaps dozens of amendments means there's been a lot of horse trading. The amendment stew has been sweetened with enough porky perks to entice every single member to vote yes. And all that sweetness is added behind the scenes, because nobody wants the voters to know what they're really voting for.
Second, a unanimous vote provides cover. When the rancid meat the sweetener was added to cover comes to light, all a Senator need say to explain is "everybody did it." You know, that excuse your mother never let you get away with.
Lastly, unanimous votes are puzzling. Surely the major parties have important and distinct views on policy. If the dogs and ponies are alike, why bother hosting the show?
The Senate President even added a bit of a twist to this game. Earlier this year, the Senate voted for a rule requiring them to take recorded roll call votes on all consolidated budget amendments. It wasn't much of a reform, but it was something. A consolidated amendment can represent scores of individual items, and passing them through the process with a nod and a wink seemed pretty cheeky even to this bunch.
But a little thing like a rule ensuring a small measure of accountability didn't stop the Leadership from hiding a failure.  
When it appeared one of the consolidated amendments wasn’t going to pass, Leadership pulled it. Rather than have a record of who voted against the package, the 75 amendments were unbundled and passed along via a voice vote.
When all the shenanigans were done, the total for the Senate Budget came in at $40.39B as they added roughly $50.67M in spending during debate. However, left underfundedwas $180.7M in obligations.

In a state where the law requires the annual budget to balance, this is dirty dealing. The Senate Budget handed Governor Baker a black hat for the next episode. He'll have to make tough 9C cuts in order to keep the state’s basic services going.

Worst of all, from our perspective, an amendment filed to put another road block in place at the MBTA passed unanimously. Legislative memories are short (apparently, even those of the pachyderms). Commuters, however, haven't forgotten the abysmal train service before Governor Baker took the reins of the runaway Transit Authority. With last night's vote, the Senate made the first move toward de-railing all that good work.
If you rely on public transportation, save your pennies. You'll need fur-lined boots and a warm wool coat for the long, cold morning wait once the Beacon Hill Power Brokers put the Union Bosses and their lust for perks back in the driver’s seat.

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