The amendments coming out of the Republican Leadership office are mighty wordy. We were only able to put 4.5 amendments in the last post before reaching the character limit in our software. So here's another section of GOP Leadership Office Amendments.
Part 2 of the series on Budget Amendments will look at Republican reform amdendments, most of which were filed by Marc Lombardo (R-Billerica), Shaunna O'Connell (R- Taunton), Geoff Diehl (R-Whitman), Kevin Kuros (R-Uxbridge), and Jim Lyons (R-Andover).
The House budget for Fiscal year 2014 is out, and can be read at this link. In addition, amendments to the budget were due yesterday at 5:00 PM. Here at Red Mass Group, over the weekend, we will list all Republican Amendments. They will be listed in amendment number order.
You can see the first set of amendments after the jump.
(While I am normally hard on Leader Jones. In this instance Jones has stepped up to the plate. His PAC spent $57,958 this election cycle. This is about the same he spent in 2010 which was $61,448. And significantly more than what they spent in 2008.
Jones deserves credit for what he's done with the PAC. Real credit, and I'll give it to him when it is due. - promoted by Rob "EaBo Clipper" Eno)
It is disappointing when our Republican leadership fails. Under our state law, Republicans are only allowed one PAC to support our House candidates. The House Minority Leader is responsible for the PAC. That would be Brad Jones.
Last year we lost three Republicans in the House after working so hard to double our numbers in 2010. One of them was due to redistricting. The other two lost narrow races. You have to place the blame on Brad Jones for these losses. Recent campaign reports show that the PAC under Brad Jones' leadership finished the election cycle with $7000 cash on hand. He kept $7000 in the bank instead of helping our candidates.
We had two Republicans lose and he has money in the bank. As you know the GOP candidates were targeted by the Democrat Super PAC. Jones should have spent it all to help these freshmen Republicans. This is a case of failed leadership.
More to follow on why Jones doesn't help fellow Republicans.
Hillary Chabot breaks the story we've all known was out there but were afraid to mention. Bravo Hillary!!!
"He's going to have to run in a special election and face another election two years down the road if he wins," said House Minority Leader Brad Jones (R-North Reading), who said the election of Brown's former deputy finance director, Kirsten Hughes, is playing a role in Brown's decision. "He might find it daunting if the party isn't united behind him."
So Brown IS waiting to decide to run based on who wins Mass GOP chair race? Why should it matter? I think former Senator Brown, who has happily disowned the GOP (but not their money) for a year now should answer why he is waiting. It can't possibly be that he has some sort of understanding, can it?
I know it looks bad that his former finance gal works at Mass GOP and his other former finance gal, who used to work there, then worked for him now wants to run the state org but come on, let's give him the benefit of the doubt, no?
If I was a pessimist, which I'm not, I would think that this story was dropped today by Brown in order to scare the last few undecideds into siding with him after badgering State Committee members with personal plea phone calls for weeks. (Rumor has it Green is up by two.)
If it is the job of the chairman of the party to support party candidates, why is Brown so concerned? And why would he allow something as inconsequential as this to influence his desire to return to the Senate and do what's best for the citizens of MA. If you want to serve, you run! Odds and lack of party support didn't scare him off in 2010. Maybe DC really did change the guy.
I think Brown (and Jones) have jumped the shark here. A non-decision like this alienates him even more from the "People" that put him in his "Seat". If Hughes wins, he may get the money and the "party", but he likely won't have the necessary grassroots to get him over. And not because of party unity but because of shenanigans like this.
Can we leave the hack appointments to the Democrats? They're much better at hiding it.
Is it just me or does it seem as though the number of special elections in Massachusetts is expanding like a family of tribbles?
Fresh on the heels of Jack Hart's announcement to leave the State Senate triggering a special election and the confirmation of Senator Kerry as Secretary of State triggering a special US Senate election (the only special election that matters if you're minority leader Brad Jones) we now have the resignation of Martha "Marty" Walz from her State Representative seat serving parts of Boston and Cambridge to join Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts.
When the opposition party doesn't oppose, they take away a line of attack from GOP candidates. This was very evident in a wide ranging debate between Korey Welch and Rhonda Nyman on WATD. During the debate, Welch, a Republican, made an issue of Nyman's vote for a bloated out of control budget. Here response? It can't be that bad, all but four Republicans voted for it.
To recap, this budget is the highest budget ever in the history of the Commonwealth. It has millions of dollars of spending for illegal immigrants. It doesn't fix the structural problems with this state. But hey all but four GOPers voted for it, so it must be good.
It is past time for the Republican Party in Massachusetts to offer an alternative vision of governance.
The Associated Press is reporting that the Massachusetts Health Care Price control legislation, supported by the House Republican leadership, is now being used as a model for a federal law. Obama allies are now eying the law, described by the Boston Business Journal as "Soviet-style", as a blueprint for national policy.
The approach broadly resembles a Massachusetts law signed this summer by Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick that puts pressure on hospitals, insurers, and other major players to keep rising costs within manageable limits. It could become the Democratic counterpoint to private market strategies favored by Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and running mate Paul Ryan.
Health costs lie at the heart of budget problems confronting the next president. Health care accounts for 18 percent of the economy and about one-fourth of the federal budget, and many experts believe it can't grow unchecked without harming other priorities. Because the United States spends much more than other advanced countries, there's a consensus that savings from cutting waste and duplication won't harm quality.
"We think of these as the next generation of ideas," said Neera Tanden, who was a senior member of the White House team that helped pass the health law. Tanden is now president of the Center for American Progress, a Washington think tank close to the administration.
And of course, if nationally you are opposed to this approach, you'll be branded extreme. Why? A large part because it received "broad bi-partisan support" in Massachusetts. There is a reason that I have been hard on our current minority leadership over this bill. This was the whole reason. It is wrong policy, and their go-along to get along attitude will now be used to bring us price-controls at the national level.
In Massachusetts, the new cost control law has its share of skeptics, but it doesn't seem to have provoked a backlash.
"These global budgets are going to be negotiated between health insurers and providers," said Jay Gonzalez, the state's secretary of administration and finance. "They are agreeing to pay for services in a different way. It isn't rationing. It isn't capping."
It's time for Massachusetts Republicans to offer a competing vision of governance. Something we are not getting at this time.
It took a Democrat, Jim Miceli of Wilmington, to give the most impassioned speech against, what the Boston Business Journal termed, "Soviet style" health cost control legislation. While the Republican leadership of the house was suggesting that their members vote for the legislation, Miceli lead the charge of the conservative wing of the house. Here is the video of the speech.
18 Republicans joined Miceli in voting against the legislation. On the day that Governor Deval Patrick signed the legislation, Moody's set a negative credit outlook on every hospital in the Commonwealth.
Yesterday morning, Deval Patrick signed the health care cost control legislation, labeled as "Soviet-style" by the Boston Business Journal, and supported Brad Jones and other Republican leaders. Within hours, Moody's hinted at a downgrade in the credit ratings of the world class hospitals in Massachusetts. State House News has the story:
he health care cost control law signed by Gov. Deval Patrick Monday will hurt the bottom lines of Massachusetts hospitals and limit their flexibility to grow, a major credit rating agency warned Monday.
"The Legislation is credit negative for Massachusetts hospitals because it will limit their revenue growth and reduce their operating flexibility," Moody's Investment Services wrote in a credit analysis of the new law.
The report also suggested the money derived from a $225 million one-time assessment on health plans and major health care providers to help support community hospitals would artificially work to keep smaller hospitals in business, while limiting the expansion opportunities for larger hospital groups and hurting their credit standings.
"Another negative credit effect of the bill is that the state will use an excise tax on insurers to support smaller and less profitable hospitals, potentially allowing them to remain in business longer than would otherwise be possible and limiting the ability of larger systems to consolidate and grow through acquisitions," Moody's wrote.
This is just one reason that Red Mass Group went after the Republicans that supported this legislation by publishing their contact information. This is bad public policy, and bad legislation and will lower the quality of care in Massachusetts. Thank you to the 11 GOP Representatives who saw the light.
For the first time this session, the Massachusetts Republican Caucus unanimously voted no on a spending bill, HR4324. All 33 members, the board was solid red from Jones to Wong. Here's the pic to prove it.
Here's to a session in the future, where this is the norm, not an anomaly.
Leading Massachusetts Republicans have weighed in on the ever widening probation probe today. After the Boston Globe reported yesterday that a federal grand jury is focusing on whether House Speaker traded jobs in the Probation Department for votes for his election to the Speakers chair, Massachusetts Republican Party Chairman Bob Maginn and Minority Leader Brad Jones both released statements.
For too long, one party rule has run amok on Beacon Hill, casting a shadow of corruption over the body charged with carrying out the people's business," said Bob Maginn, MassGOP Chairman. "Rather than sit and wait for their number to be called, those legislators who supported Speaker DeLeo should come forward now with any information they may have to clear up these troubling accusations."
"I hope that the US Attorney's office can and will bring this investigation to a speedy conclusion, and that those who have violated the public trust will face the consequences associated with those violations," said Minority Leader Brad Jones. "Because of these allegations, dark clouds continue to swirl around the State House. While we await resolution on this matter, one thing remains clear: this is a byproduct of one-party government."
DeLeo for his part in an afternoon press availability denied any wrongdoing.
In a reaction to the fact that Massachusetts has fallen from 6th place to 28th in the annual CNBC survey of Business Competitiveness, Brad Jones recalled Deval Patrick's famous speech "just words", to describe Patrick's approach to the economy.
"In light of Massachusetts' rank as 28th in a CNBC survey of "Top States for Business", the Governor's mantra of "faster, stronger" obviously isn't helping us any. Those are just words. Words won't get the residents of Massachusetts back to work.
As if the news couldn't get any worse for Massachusetts residents, CNBC ranks the Commonwealth 49th in cost of business, ahead of only Hawaii. These latest numbers are egregious. The residents of Massachusetts deserve better.
If past is precedent, the Governor will try to discredit the validity of this survey. However, in his Fiscal Year 2013 budget brief highlighting the Commonwealth's need to stimulate job creation, Governor Patrick touted Massachusetts' 6th place ranking in the very same survey published one year ago.
Massachusetts needs leaders ready to fix the skyrocketing cost of doing business which is stifling job creation and deterring entrepreneurs and businesses alike. House and Senate Republicans filed a comprehensive jobs bill months ago to make Massachusetts competitive. We can no longer afford to accept excuses from Governor Patrick when it comes to jobs and job creation. Massachusetts needs jobs now."
"How can you squander even one more day not taking advantage of the greatest shifts of our generation? How dare you settle for less when the world has made it so easy for you to be remarkable?" - Seth Godin, Best Selling Author
There is a paucity of socialness among the Members of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. In an era when everybody seems to be on-line, talking to each other, and building their influence, the members of the House by and large seem to be letting opportunity slip through their fingers.
A social media survey, of Facebook, Twitter, and Klout, was conducted, by this author, on 2/24 and 2/25/2012, the raw data of which can be downloaded in this excel document. Of the 158 current members of the House of Representatives 78, or a little less than half, have a Facebook fan page. The number of Representatives on Twitter is even worse with 51 representatives, or less than a third having an account. The number of Representatives with both a fan page and a Twitter account is even smaller still, at 35.
On any given day the news media engages itself and looks for stories via Twitter. In Massachusetts politics that is most often done in the virtual chat room known as the #mapoli hash-tag. With that knowledge one would expect the leaders of both parties in the House to be actively engaging both the press and citizens via social media channels. For both parties they are lumped in with those who have little to no social media presence.
Both the Speaker of the House, and the House Minority Leader, lack both a Facebook Fan Page, and twitter account. The Majority leader of the House, Ronald Mariano, does have both means of communication, and is actively using them. Brad Jones'top lieutenant, George Peterson, has a Facebook Fan Page, but no twitter presence. In addition, neither caucus has a fan page or Twitter account to get their message out.
Only Facebook Fan Pages were counted in this survey, member's personal Facebook profiles were not. Reliance on a personal profile creates a barrier between the audience you are trying to reach, your constituents, and yourself. By requiring a Representative to affirmatively accept a friend request, a personal page creates a lag time to when a constituent can get information from a Representative. In addition, personal pages do not have the ability to embed forms for data collection and donations. Better than nothing, they are not the best means of communication, in the medium, and were not included.
78 members of the House of Representatives have Facebook Fan pages, with 21 Republicans and 57 Democrats having them. The Republican Party has much larger percentage of their caucus with fan pages, at close to 2/3. This percentage advantage doesn't necessarily mean that Republicans are beating the Democrats in the effective use of them.
The Democrats with pages have a larger community following them. The median number of "likes" for all members, with pages, was 405. The Democrats best their Republican counterparts with a median number of 433 "likes", where the Republicans have 366. When average likes are counted, the Democratic advantage holds at 540 to 402 advantage. The average number of "likes" for all members is 503. It is clear that Republicans need to do a much better job of asking for Facebook fans.
Having a Fan page doesn't necessarily mean you are active with it. Some Representatives merely have a place holder, or only seem to use the page during campaign season, and not as an ongoing tool of engagement. Members who use their Facebook page only during campaigns are missing a very important way in which to communicate with their constituents. Of the 78 fan pages, 57 have current content, posted in February of this year. Another three pages have content posted last in January. Surprisingly 36%, or 18, of the pages have not been updated in 2012 at all. Even more surprisingly is that 12 Representatives have not updated their pages since September of 2011 or earlier. Representative Robert Fennel has apparently never updated his page, there is no point in having a page if you don't update it.
Representatives are also using their pages in different ways. Some have adopted aggressive strategies with fundraising tabs, and data collection available on the page. Others simply use it as a way of sharing news. The largest mistake many representatives make is shutting down their wall. That is not allowing others to post. Facebook allows you to primarily show your posts, with all others showing up in another tab. Using that feature to ensure your message is seen first is one thing, not allowing others to post is something else entirely. Social media is about engaging with your community. It is just as important to listen, by shutting down your wall you are missing half of the conversation. You can't listen if you've pressed the other side's mute button. If you are a representative who has shut down your wall, open it immediately, you'll be surprised at how the place livens up.
Over the past couple of weeks we've heard countless officials talk about the "fixed cost", and "mandatory spending" problem we face as a Commonwealth. Nothing could be farther from the truth. We don't have a problem of that magnitude, because under our constitutional system a crisis of that type cannot exist. What we have is a cowardice on the part of leaders to take on a rapidly spinning out of control model of government.
The Massachusetts constitution is clear. The legislature appropriates, each year, the spending of the Commonwealth and the Governor approves it. No where in the constitution does it say that we must outlay anything of a mandatory nature.
The "fixed costs" that Governor Patrick, and his administration carp about are statutory requirements of law. Laws which can be changed at any time, if our leaders had the courage to do so.
The growing ranks of Republican legislators on Beacon Hill would do well to remind the governor and his Democratic allies in the legislature of this fact as budget season progresses. It would show the public that the GOP is pushing for real change.
Continuing down the path we are on is not "mandatory". It is cowardice on the part of those we elect to actually lead.