I have been known on more than a few occasions to complain about the Massachusetts Legislature's habit of "debating" important matters of public concern - most significantly, the state budget - in Democratic caucus chambers, behind a closed door.
I am happy to read in a bulletin from the State House News Service this afternoon, then, that the House is making some progress toward the democratic ideal of transacting public business by way of open and public debate. Reporting on the ongoing jockeying over state spending, the SHNS observes:
Baby steps, baby steps - but at least moving in the right direction. Maybe in a few years we'll have a functioning democracy again.
Consolidated amendments this year are not being hashed out in a backroom off the House. Instead, amendments are being hashed out in private talks on the floor.
The graphic (if you are having a hard time reading it, double click and it should open slightly larger) is the roll call sheet for the 25 percent sales tax vote. Take a look and see if your Rep. voted to raise your taxes during a recession. It is a good bet he or she did.
Here's an interesting note: Of the 15 newly-elected House members (all Democrats), 13 voted for the tax hike. The only exceptions were Jim Arciero of Westford and Dennis Rosa of Leominster.
A junkie might wish for more free time to track the various pet projects being stuffed back in to what we have been told is a bare boned budget, to compare the sponsors of those projects with the votes that lined up to give Speaker DeLeo his 25 percent tax increase with a veto-proof majority.
Happily, Rep. Karyn Polito (R(no kidding)- Shrewsbury) is saving us the trouble. Also from SHNS:
Rep. Karyn Polito (R-Shrewsbury) intimated there might have been some horse-trading at work last night as DeLeo attempted to round up votes to veto-proof the sales tax hike, which Patrick suggested he'll sign if lawmakers send him "satisfactory" reform bills. “I will be watching closely to see what additions and special projects are added to the budget,” she said. “I’m interested to see how the speaker arrived at his final vote total.”New House Ways and Mean Chair Charley Murphy took exception. “There were discussions,” he said. “There was no arm-twisting or anything like that.”
Uh-huh. That is even less credible than his attempts to characterize the no-tax-increases budget his committee floated a couple of weeks back as "real."