Saturday, May 30, 2009

Do As I Say, Not As I Do?

When Governor Deval Patrick was Candidate Deval Patrick, he ran on a platform of cleaning up Beacon Hill and transparency among other things.

Well, an article in today's Boston Herald proves once again that Governor Patrick is a "Do as I say, not as I do" politician. The Herald's Hillary Chabot reports that the Governor apparently "took advantage of a loophole to keep a lid on a nearly $400,000 advance he got last year on his book deal." While the state's outdated ethics rules do not prohibit the actions the Governor took, it is increasingly clear that transparency is certainly not one of the Governor's priorities.

Click here to read the full article.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Ethics Reform Needed Now More than Ever

We have known for quite some time that we need meaningful ethics reform and if there was any doubt, the allegations facing Representative Gloria Fox solidifies that need.

According to the Boston Herald Fox used her position of authority to get a prison inmate a visit with his girlfriend. Regardless of whether or not these allegations prove to be true, situations like this cast a negative image on Beacon Hill and state government as a whole. The conference committee for ethics reform is scheduled to start meeting soon. Republican lawmakers will push to do all they can to make sure stronger rules are put on the books and those already in place are better enforced.

Click here
to read the Boston Herald’s editorial regarding the allegations facing Fox.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Perry Offers Resolution to Protect 10th Amendment

Today, Representative Jeffrey Davis Perry (R-Sandwich) filed a Resolution before the House of Representatives to protect the Founding Fathers’ intent and the Constitutional protections of the 10th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which states:

"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

“The purpose of this Resolution is to clearly affirm to Congress and the President our State’s sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution and to demand that the federal government halt the practice of assuming powers and imposing mandates upon the states for purposes which are not enumerated by the Constitution of the United States of America” said Representative Perry from the State House.

As cited by the 10th Amendment Center, “James Madison, during the Constitutional ratification process, drafted the “Virginia Plan” to give Congress general legislative authority and to empower the national judiciary to hear any case that might cause friction among the states, to give the congress a veto over state laws, to empower the national government to use the military against the states, and to eliminate the states’ accustomed role in selecting members of Congress. Each one of these proposals was soundly defeated. In fact, Madison made many more attempts to authorize a national veto over state laws, and these were repeatedly defeated as well…

The Tenth Amendment defines the total scope of federal power as being that which has been delegated by the people to the federal government, and also that which is absolutely necessary to advancing those powers specifically enumerated in the Constitution of the United States. The rest is to be handled by the state governments, or locally, by the people themselves. The Constitution does not include a congressional power to override state laws. It does not give the judicial branch unlimited jurisdiction over all matters. It does not provide Congress with the power to legislate over everything. This is verified by the simple fact that attempts to make these principles part of the Constitution were soundly rejected by its signers.”

GOP Lawmakers Honored at Legislator's Association Dinner

House Minority Leader Brad Jones and former Assistant Minority Leader Mary Rogeness were among those honored last night at the Annual Legislator's Association Dinner. Also in the photo above is sitting Assistant Minority Leader George Peterson. The awards are handed out every year to those legislators who go above and beyond the call of duty. Congratulations to all of the recipients!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Memorial Day Reflections

I am writing to share the many experiences that I had the honor of participating in over this past Memorial Day Weekend. In a time of uncertainty it was quite ensuring to see the many veterans who served this great Country and Commonwealth continue their service by setting up numerous memorial services to make sure that their friends, neighbors and family for whom they went to war with and did not return with are never forgotten.

It all started on Friday morning with numerous assemblies at our local schools. I applaud both staff and students of the Ipswich, Hamilton/Wenham and Masconomet School Districts who came together to remember those fallen soldiers who gave their lives for the freedoms that we enjoy each and every day. The student speeches and memories were all inspirational. The districts bands did a fabulous job of remembering each and every member of all the branches of or armed forces.

The many services did not stop on Friday; Sunday morning I visited the veterans, sons of the legion and citizens of Hamilton at the Hamilton Legion where we honored our fallen soldiers with a breakfast. There we heard from the Chair of the Board of Selectmen as well as other dignitaries. It was very touching and set the mood for what would follow on Monday.

Could the Lord above have given us a better day for honoring those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, I would argue no. The skies were bright with sunshine and not a cloud in the sky could be seen for miles. My first parade started in Hamilton at the Town Hall with many veterans, organizations and townspeople lined up to honor those who have not only served but who for those Hamilton residents who did not return from conflict. Over in Ipswich a similar scenario was happening. It started on top of Town Hill in downtown Ipswich and the parade weaved itself through the inner downtown area stopping at numerous monuments honoring those heroes who did not return home. It ended at the Ipswich VFW where a brief ceremony was held. As per tradition, beans and franks were served to those who participated in the day’s events. My last parade of the day ended in the Town of Wenham where Route 1A was closed so that the citizens could honor our fallen soldiers who resided in Wenham. Again, touching ceremonies at each of the following locations: The downtown monument in front of the First Church, the Cemetery and finally in front of the Public Safety Complex. What pleased me the most was the participation from the many towns’ people who took time out of their busy schedules to come and remember those who served this great country and for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for you and me.

The following was a speech I gave at the Ipswich Middle School and Ipswich VFW:

Good Morning. I want to begin my remarks by thanking all of our soldiers, airmen, Marines and Seamen serving today- whether they be modern day heroes serving in Iraq, peacekeeping efforts in Afghanistan, or our own hometown reservists and National Guardsmen, providing Homeland Security here in the Commonwealth and across this great land of ours in Operation Enduring Freedom. Furthermore, I want to thank our Veterans. To you, I want to extend my sincerest greeting on this day for the sacrifices that you have made for this great country during a previous time in this country's great history.

Memorial Day is a very important holiday in the United States. Every year since 1868, the people of the United States have taken time at the end of May to recognize Memorial Day. As you should all know, Memorial Day is a time to remember the men and women who gave their lives defending our great country and who continue to fight for America's freedom today. After all, freedom is the cornerstone that separates the United States from the rest of the world. These service men and women have made the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of each and every one of us so that we can live freely as part of this great nation. We owe them our deepest respect and gratitude for ensuring our way of life. That is why on Monday, the people of this nation will join together in honoring the memories of these distinguished men and women who truly are American heroes. But let's not wait another year to honor these fallen heroes. I would suggest to you that daily we must dedicate a moment to stop and remember those brave men and women for their sacrifice that allows us Americans the precious gifts of freedom and liberty that we enjoy every day.

Thanksgiving is a day when we pause to give thanks for the things we have. Memorial Day is a day when we pause to give thanks to the people who fought for the things we have

Today’s color Alert---RED WHITE and BLUE---In memory of those who have sacrificed their lives for you and me

The real American Idol’s are spread across the lands of America and other countries

In closing, I ask that you please remember those who gave their lives during war and in peacetime to protect all of us and the wonderful Constitutional freedoms that we enjoy, including the freedom to gather here today.

May God bless you and God bless the United States of America!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Major Accomplishment for Senate Republicans

Senate Republicans deserve a pat on the back after a long budget week that ended with a major accomplishment. GOP lawmakers in the Senate were able to increase the threshold of the Pacheco law from $200,000 to $2 million. While Republicans in both the House and Senate would like to see this law repealed all together, raising the ceiling is a good stepping stone.

We were unsuccessful in getting a similar amendment adopted in the House that would have raised the threshold to $5 million, but are hopeful that the conference committee will recognize the many benefits that come with the changes to the Pacheco law.

Click here to read an editorial in today’s Boston Herald, praising the good work of the Senators who voted to adopt this amendment.

New Hampshire Residents Grateful For “Stimulus Bill”

Over the weekend, the Boston Herald ran an op-ed written by a New Hampshire business owner. In the tongue and cheek piece, that business owner thanked the Massachusetts Legislature profusely for passing a bill that he says will stimulate not the Bay State economy, but the New Hampshire economy.

He cited several components of the House and Senate budgets, saying they will greatly benefit business in the Granite State. He praised the 25% sales tax increase as well as the hike in the alcohol and meals taxes. Saying New Hampshire is about to see an economic boom, he encouraged the Legislature to go ahead and raise the gas tax too!

The decisions being made by the Democratic-controlled Legislature is having a devastating effect on the Massachusetts economy while simultaneously stimulating New Hampshire’s economy. Our Democratic colleagues say that Massachusetts reputation as “Taxachusetts” is inaccurate, but quite frankly they are doing everything they can to make that perception a reality!

Click here to read the op-ed.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Kudos to WCVB-TV

Kudos to WCVB’s Team 5 and its investigation into the proliferation of all those “quasi” state agencies, many of which are growing fat in Quasi-Land where neither “quite-public” nor “quite-private” adds up to “not-quite-accountable.”

As we continue to pan for gold, the House Republicans will be taking a closer look into this vein. Is this spending warranted? Or are too many tax-payers dollars being siphoned off to support bloated salaries and suspect missions?

Massachusetts Housing Partnership is rather typical. Out of 47 employees, 12 are being paid more than $100,000 per year, and Executive Director Clark Ziegler gets $203,475!

To view the story and take a peek at other “quasi-public” corporate salaries, click here.

Believe in Reform Before Revenue

Remember when the Boston Red Sox appeared to out of the running for the 2004 World Series and hopeful fans adorned with “Believe” signs packed the stands? Well, it’s time to break out the believe signs again, because despite the tax happy ways of the Majority Party on Beacon Hill, the Republican Caucus still believes in reform before revenue. And surprisingly, Boston Herald columnist and talk radio host Margery Eagan feels the same way. In fact, her latest column read like a memo filled with Republican talking points!

Eagan includes the following list for ideas that must be accomplished before even discussing tax increases. 1) Outlaw double dipping (collecting a state salary and pension simultaneously) 2) Cap pensions - even at, say $150,000 a year 3) Outlaw early retirements and pension collecting 4) End special legislative boondoggles 5) Make town and city workers join the state health insurer, thus saving billions.
All of these ideas sound pretty good to us and in fact are proposals that have been offered by Republican lawmakers on several occasions.

If a typically liberal columnist is following our trend, isn’t it about time the majority of Democrats jump on the bandwagon too?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Path for the Future?

In an op-ed in today’s Cape Cod Times, Peter Ubertaccio, an associate professor of political science at Stonehill College suggested that the recent election of Taylor White to Town Clerk in Sandwich is a step in the right direction for the Republican Party.

Click here to read the article.

Lack of Transparency, Lack of Public Trust

An article in today’s Boston Herald, written by Dave Wedge, highlighted what many of us already know. That is, the lack of transparency on Beacon Hill ultimately leads to the lack of public trust. House Republicans, knowing full well there may be backlash, complied with a Herald request to release the names, titles and salaries of all staff members. Meanwhile, only a handful of Democrats responded to the request.

The Senate President and the House Speaker were among those who neglected to provide the Herald with this public information and in not complying gave the general public more reason not to trust its elected officials. There have been numerous examples of ethical improprieties, repeated patronage by the Patrick Administration and the continued mismanagement of taxpayers’ money.

Being transparent is a critically important tool in working to regain the public’s trust.

Click here to read the article in its entirety.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Republican Proposal Praised by Sun Chronicle

The Sun Chronicle editorial page today praised an amendment adopted in the House last month that was offered by Republican lawmakers. The amendment which was adopted unanimously encourages medical facilities to return unused, unexpired medication.

This proposal could save the Commonwealth at least $20 million annually, as nursing homes in Massachusetts alone are known to waste millions of dollars in unused prescriptions. This concept will lead to a decrease in overall health care costs in the state.

The Sun Chronicle praised the effort, calling it, "good for the environment, the economy, the health of one and all and, not least, the reputation of the state Legislature." The newspaper neglected to point out it was a Republican offered amendment, however, it is good to see the GOP Caucus' innovative ideas are being recognized by media outlets around the state.

Click here to read the editorial in its entirety.

Representative Perry's You Tube Message

Representative Jeff Perry recently released his monthly You Tube message. This month's message is Representative Perry's opinion on the proposed increase to the state's sales tax.

Click here to hear what Rep. Perry has to say.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Globe Recognizes GOP's Reform Efforts

The Boston Globe's Scott Lehigh today recognized the efforts of GOP lawmakers to make serious cost saving reforms this budget season.

Unfortunately, budget debate wrapped up in the House on May 1st with the final version containing very few of our reform measures. We offered a number of the amendments being praised by Lehigh today in the Globe, but they were overwhelmingly rejected by the Democratic-controlled House.

Hopefully, these measures will be adopted when the Senate takes up its budget next week. If so, the Conference Committee will have a real opportunity to prove to the people of the Commonwealth that Beacon Hill gets it. Families and businesses all over the state are making tough choices. They are cutting back on spending, doing more with less and are now being asked to pay even more. The Legislature needs to do the same and adopting Republican offered amendments is certainly a huge step in the right direction.

Click here to read Lehigh’s piece.

Massport Spending Habits Under Fire

House Minority Leader Brad Jones recently appeared in an investigative piece on WBZ-TV. The story, done by I-Team reporter Joe Shortsleeve examines the spending habits practiced at Massport.

Click here to see the story.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Give Credit When Credit is Due

The Republican Caucus and Governor Patrick very rarely agree on policy, but one view we do share is the importance of honoring our military men and women, particularly those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. The Boston Globe today revealed that Governor Patrick, like former Governor Mitt Romney, has made it a point to attend every wake, funeral or memorial of every fallen service member since becoming Governor.

We applaud and commend Governor Patrick for paying respect to our fallen heroes and their families and hope this tradition will continue not only under Governor Patrick, but by his future successors as well.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Retail Sales Decline, Sales Tax Looking Even Worse!

Last month, the Democratic-controlled House adopted an amendment to increase the state's sales tax by 25%. Republicans fought hard against this measure, knowing a hike in the state's sales tax would not only hurt Commonwealth residents, but would also have a damaging effect on local businesses.

Today, the Commerce Department announced that retail sales declined for the second straight month in April. Given the current economic situation, people all over the country are living cautiously. They are cutting back on eating out, avoiding shopping for non-essentials and overall trimming their household budgets. Increasing the sales tax will only make matters worse and this alarming new statistic strengthens our argument against raising taxes.

Click here to read the article regarding the retail sales decline.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Where in the World is Governor Patrick?

Candidate Deval Patrick made some big promises when running for Governor, but Governor Patrick doesn’t seem to be following through on many of them. In fact, not only has the Governor fallen short on property tax relief and reforming how business is done on Beacon Hill, he seems to have forgotten that being Governor actually entails showing up occasionally.

According to an article in today’s Boston Globe, the Governor and his staff seem to think making an occasional phone call while tucked away at his estate in the Berkshires counts as a day of work. How about all of that campaigning he did for President Barack Obama? His staff says “Trips on behalf of Obama benefit the state.” Or, what about the book he is currently penning? Don’t worry, he’s only doing that at night and on weekends! Being Governor is a 24 hour a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year commitment. While we understand even he needs a vacation every now and then, 6 weeks of vacation time in his first 2 years of Governor hardly seems reasonable. Most workers in the private sector are lucky to have 2 weeks vacation allotted to them!

Click here to read the full article.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Jones Appears on Fox News Channel

House Minority Leader Brad Jones appeared on a number of Fox News programs in recent days as outrage over the car ownership program continues. The program has been the target of much scrutiny since the Boston Herald's Hillary Chabot reported that funding had been increased to a program that provides cars to welfare recipients.

Click here to see Jones' appearance on Your World w/Neil Cavuto. Filling in for Cavuto is Fox Business Channel's Brian Sullivan.

Republican Idea Rejected, Boston Herald Praises It

During the House budget debate, Republican lawmakers offered an amendment that would have expedited the sale of state surplus land, transferring the revenues from such transactions to the general fund. A similar effort back in 2005 yielded significant revenues to the Commonwealth.

To no surprise, that amendment was overwhelmingly shot down. However, today the Boston Herald editorial page praised the idea.

Click here to read the full article.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Outrage Reaches California

A radio station in San Diego, California reached out to House Republicans yesterday to respond to the car ownership program. The producer at the Rick Roberts Show saw the story on Drudge Report yesterday and asked Assistant Minority Leader George Peterson to come on the show.

Peterson will be on the Rick Roberts Show at 8am eastern time today.

To here the live online broadcast, click here.

Jones to Discuss Car Ownership Program on Finneran

An article in yesterday's Boston Herald exposed a $400,000 state program that provides cars to welfare recipients. Well, the outrage and reaction to that program has been non-stop since yesterday morning.

House Minority Leader Brad Jones will be appearing on the Finneran show on WRKO at 7:30 this morning to discuss the controversial program.

Click here to listen to the broadcast live online or tune into AM680 if you're near a radio.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Governor Exposes Misplaced Priorities Again

Governor Patrick continues to expose his administration's extremely misplaced priorities. According to an article in today's Boston Herald, Governor Patrick recently boosted the funding for a program that provides free cars to welfare recipients, this despite a more than $900 million budget shortfall that needs to be closed by the end of June.

Click here to read the full article.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Majority Ignores Fiscal Reality While Passing Budget

State House News Service is reporting that, “state tax collections are expected to reach $17.989 billion next fiscal year.” The article goes onto say "the downgrade is nearly 8 percent and more than $1.5 billion below the original $19.53 billion fiscal 2010 estimate that Gov. Deval Patrick and the House used in their budget proposals.”

Today, House leaders defended the passing of last week’s budget, saying the exact revenue decline figures were not available at the time of debate.

While the exact numbers were not public knowledge last week, the direction and the severity of the revenue decline certainly was. Republican lawmakers proposed to postpone debate, knowing that the budget passed last week was dramatically out of balance and unsustainable. The entire Republican caucus voted against the budget, and the new revenue numbers released today underscore the reason why.

Cost Saving Measures Looking Pretty Good Right Now

Last week, the Republican Caucus made a motion to postpone budget debates until after the new tax collection data had been released. We tried to recess until this week because as revenues continue to plummet, we knew the House's FY10 budget would not be sustainable.

The 2009 fiscal year comes to an end on the last day of June. And because of last month's revenue shortfall, the state is now grappling to close a $900 million budget deficit. This budget gap underscores just how off base next year's revenues estimates are. The economic circumstances we are facing as a state are unlike any we have ever seen before. Revenues decline significantly every month, while the spending on Beacon Hill continues to grow.

Last week, we offered a number of amendments that could have save upwards of $320 million. Of all of the cost saving measures we offered, the House rejected a total savings of $270 million.

Here is a list of the amendments we offered that could have provided real cost savings for the state:

1. Shift all MassHealth members to managed care plans, rather than the MassHealth fee-for-service program and primary car clinician plan. Savings: $160M-$200M

2. Change the Pacheco Law threshold from $200K to $5M. Savings: $20M-30M

3. Provide the rules and regulations for the state to expedite the sale of surplus land, transferring the revenues from such transactions to the general fund.
Savings: $10M-$15M

4. Eliminate the Governor's Washington, DC office entirely. Savings: $403,430

While these cost saving measures may seem small, in a time of economic crisis, every little bit helps, and we would hard call $270 million little. The taxpayers deserve better. We should be going through every single line item and cutting whatever is not absolutely necessary. The House has passed transportation and pension reform bills, both of which have provisions that could save the Commonwealth millions of dollars. We need to get those reforms into place and then re-examine where our state is financially. The Governor and the Democratic-controlled legislature have convinced many that the only way out of this crisis is to raise your taxes. We however, believe cutting waste, reducing spending and tightening our belts are the principles we should be living by while navigating through these extremely tough economic times. The state’s rainy day fund has been tapped three times already during this recession. While yes, it is raining, it likely that we will need to rely on this fund and the monies coming through the federal stimulus package during the next two fiscal years.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Perry: “What part of illegal don’t you understand…?”

Today, Representative Jeffrey Davis Perry (R-Sandwich) forced an Amendment Relative to Public Benefits onto the floor of the House of Representatives. After a 3-hour debate, Perry demanded a vote on an attempt to place the amendment into a “study.” Upon the conclusion of the debate, 40 members voted “No” indicating their support for Perry’s amendment to limit benefits for illegal immigrants, 116 voted yes and thus Perry’s Amendment failed.

This legislation would have established a system of comprehensive regulations restricting public benefits for non-residents of the Commonwealth. Mirrored after legislation which passed in both Colorado and Georgia, this measure would have ensured that taxpayer funded benefits go only to those that are eligible to receive them. The Amendment to the 2010 State Budget would demand that anyone attempting to receive taxpayer funded public benefits must first be verified by the Federal Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlement program “SAVE.”

“There is no doubt that this is a Federal issue; however, since our elected officials in Washington, D.C. have failed to successfully address this issue, states like Massachusetts have no other real choice but to attempt to deal with the increasing burden these illegal immigrants are placing on our health care providers, criminal justice system, educational faculties and employers who are following the rules. In an effort to reduce the number of illegals coming to Massachusetts, I filed this amendment to ensure only legal residents of Massachusetts gain access to state benefits” said Representative Perry from the State House.

The Amendment includes exemptions from this process for those under the age of 18 and in disaster situations where state benefits must be accessed in an expeditious manner.

“I am extremely disappointed that only after a few days of raising the state’s sales tax by some $900,000,000, the majority of legislators voted not to restrict public benefits to only legal residents. With so many citizens waiting in line for benefits and the state often saying we do not have enough money, I am at a loss why some find it acceptable for tax-payer money to go to illegal immigrants” Perry said.

And the Patronage Continues

Governor Patrick's job approval ratings are plummeting, he is in an all out war with the Legislature over which taxes to raise, and yet he still finds the time to hand out plum positions to political pals.

According to an article in today's Boston Herald, three state posts were recently filled by friends of Patrick for a grand total of $253,000. Seems a bit hypocritical, don't you think? Our state is facing the most difficult economic times since the Great Depression, the House just adopted an amendment to raise the state's sales tax at a cost of $900 million to taxpayers and the Governor wants you to pay an extra 19 cents for a gallon of gas. Couldn't that $253,000 be better spent elsewhere?