Monday, November 30, 2009

Bay State Struggles While Other Regions Thrive

As many of you know, Black Friday is known as the kickoff to the holiday shopping season and while retailers in many regions in the nation thrived, Bay State retailers weren’t so lucky. According to an article in the Boston Herald, “Nationally, shoppers spent $10.6 billion at the malls on the day after Thanksgiving, 0.5 percent more than last year. The West led the way with a 4.7 percent retail sales jump compared to 2008, followed by the Midwest where sales increased by 1.3 percent and the South, where sales rose by 0.6 percent.” However, the Herald goes on to report that here in the Bay State, “The Retailers Association of Massachusetts is predicting another 3 percent drop in retail sales during the holiday season this year.”

Could it be because of the massive increase to the state’s sales tax earlier this year? When are Governor Patrick and the tax-happy Democrats on Beacon Hill going to realize that their policies are hurting Massachusetts residents and business in Massachusetts, not helping?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

From all of us here at The Capitol View, we hope you and your loved ones have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Truth is in the Numbers

Last week, state officials reported “Massachusetts lost 900 more jobs in October, but the state's unemployment rate dropped to 8.9 percent from 9.3 percent.” However, according to a CNBC report today the “real” jobless rate more accurately depicts the number of people unemployed or under-employed. In fact, CNBC is reporting that the real national unemployment rate is 17.5%. So, how is it possible that last month the Commonwealth lost 900 jobs, yet the unemployment rate went down? Something just isn’t adding up!

The fact of the matter is people who have lost a job, have had their hours cut down from full time to part time or people who have been unemployed for so long that they’ve fallen off the list to receive unemployment are struggling. And it is the responsibility of the Governor and the Legislature to put Massachusetts’ economy back on the right track. However, that goal won’t be accomplished by raising taxes and fees and it seems that’s all the Democrats know how to do!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Jones: Tisei Will Make an Excellent Lieutenant Governor

House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. issued the following statement after Senate Minority Leader Richard R. Tisei announced he will seek the office of Lieutenant Governor.

I have known and worked with Richard for more than two decades and it has been a privilege to call him my friend and my colleague. Senator Tisei brings a wealth of legislative experience and accomplishments to the ticket and as the people of his district will attest he has been a dedicated and honorable legislator who always puts the interests of his constituents first. As Lieutenant Governor, he will put the needs of Massachusetts’ taxpayers ahead of politics, like he’s always done in the past.

Additionally, Richard’s a small business owner and is probably one of the few state wide candidates who truly understand how difficult it is to run a business in the Commonwealth. I will do everything I can to support the Charlie Baker-Richard Tisei ticket.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Governor Patrick Misses the Point, Again!

According to an article in today’s Boston Herald, Governor Patrick recently spoke at an event with the Retailers Association of Massachusetts where he apparently said, “He would support a sales tax holiday in 2010 if state revenues stabilize.”

Once again Governor Patrick misses the point. Instead of focusing on the well being of our state’s taxpayers and businesses, he’s more worried about the state’s coffers. As the Herald article points out, “Store owners had contended that the holiday was especially needed this year, because they feared that a 25 percent increase in the state sales tax to 6.25 percent, which took effect Aug. 1, would drive consumers to shop in tax-free New Hampshire or online.” The fact that Governor Patrick said the state couldn't offer a sales tax holiday shows just how out of touch and disconnected he and his administration really are. The poor economic climate was the most convincing reason why a sales tax holiday was necessary. Not only does the sales tax holiday generate business during a slump, it also provides a little relief to cash-strapped taxpayers.

One thing in the article that doesn’t surprise us is the fact that Governor Patrick is suddenly on the bandwagon for a sales tax holiday next year, an election year that is!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Effort to Repeal Tax Increases Rejected

House Republicans fought hard tonight to provide some relief to struggling taxpayers in Massachusetts. However, that effort was overwhelmingly rejected by the “tax and spend” Democrats on Beacon Hill. While debating a supplemental budget, Republican leadership offered amendments to roll back the sales tax to 5% and to reinstitute the sales tax exemption on alcohol purchases. Both amendments failed. House Democrats missed a solid opportunity to prove to taxpayers that Beacon Hill understands the challenging times families across the Commonwealth are facing. There is a ballot initiative under way that if passed would roll back the sales tax to 3%. Apparently the Democrats would prefer this option!

Legislature: Do As I Say, Not As I Do

Today is the last day of full formal sessions before the House adjourns for the holiday break and one of the first items voted on today was overriding the Governor’s veto of $18 million for the legislative accounts. So, while the Democratic-controlled Legislature is preaching joint sacrifice as it raises a slew of taxes, the tax and spend Democrats are making sure their own are well taken care of. A bit hypocritical, don’t you think?

Families across the Commonwealth are tightening their belts, municipalities are slashing their budgets while laying off teachers and public safety professional and yet the Legislature thinks it is appropriate to restore all of the funding allocated to these accounts. Could the Democrats not figure out a way to do more with less?
People across America and in the private sector are managing, why can’t they?

We didn’t need further proof of the misplaced priorities on Beacon Hill and yet the Democrats managed to supply it with this vote.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What is the Patrick Administration Thinking???

Just when you think the Patrick Administration couldn’t be any more out of touch, it goes and outdoes itself! According to the Boston Herald, a report commissioned by Governor Patrick to study how to better integrate legal and illegal immigrants and refugees into the Bay State has just been released. In the report, there are 131 recommendations made and many of them are not going to sit well with the public and are not sitting well with the Republican Caucus.

Here are some of the recommendations highlighted by the Boston Herald:

• Provide in-state tuition rates for state college and universities for immigrants who have lived in the Bay State for at least three years and have a high school diploma from a Massachusetts school or GED;

• Allow illegal immigrants to access state financial aid programs to pay college tuition;

• Expand access to driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants;

• Require state agencies to provide information about basic services in multiple languages;

• Expand state funding for legal services to help immigrants become citizens;

• Ask the Department of Revenue to study the “feasibility” of creating a tax credit for naturalization expenses;

• Improve access to capital for immigrant-run businesses.

The one thing all of these have in common is they all cost money and in many instances they reward illegal behavior. Now is not the time to be focusing on providing services to those here illegally. Instead, this is a prime opportunity to institute real cost savings reforms and to focus on getting unemployed Commonwealth residents back to work.

This example of Governor Patrick’s misplaced priorities is further proof that he is disconnected from his constituency.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Poirier Appointed to Special Commission

Representative Elizabeth Poirier was today appointed by House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. to a special commission to study the feasibility of establishing a veterans' hall of fame in the Commonwealth.

Representative Poirier, who serves as the ranking Republican on the Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal affairs, will join 10 other people in reviewing and analyzing the feasibility of, and costs associated with, establishing a veterans’ hall of fame in the Commonwealth. The commission will also study reasonable methods and criteria that may be utilized for nominating and inducting veterans who are residents of the Commonwealth into the veterans’ hall of fame.

“Betty has been a tireless advocate for veterans in Massachusetts,” said Representative Jones. “When asked to make an appointment to this commission, there was no doubt in my mind that there would be anyone more passionate about this particular issue than Betty.”

“I am truly honored to be appointed to this commission,” said Representative Poirier. “Our veterans have served us well and they deserve our utmost respect and commitment. I look forward to being a part of this very important cause.”

Representative Poirier was first elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1999 and was appointed Assistant Minority Whip earlier this year.

Poirier serves on a number of other House committees including Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets, Elder Affairs and Steering, Policy and Scheduling.

Assistant Minority Leader Appears in Fox 25 Investigative Piece

Assistant Minority Leader George Peterson recently appeared in a Fox 25 investigative piece about lawmakers holding second jobs and whether or not their employment could be a conflict of interest.

To watch the piece in its entirety, click here.

Perry’s Statement on Benefits for Illegals

Representative Jeff Perry (R-Sandwich) released the following statement today in response to new talk about providing benefits to illegal immigrants.

Today, the media is reporting that once again the Governor and many of the liberals who control Beacon Hill are talking about promoting benefits for illegal immigrants, including tax-payer subsidized college tuition discounts.

While it may "feel good" for some to take such a position, from my point of view, such a policy violates the rule of law, promotes illegal behavior, is unfair to taxpayers, and puts law breakers ahead of those who follow the immigration rules. By encouraging illegal behavior, what message does this send to immigrants who enter this country legally? The issue of immigration must be looked at from two different points of view.

The first dealing with those people who are in the United States legally and the second deals with those here illegally. While I believe it is the role of government to provide people with a helping hand, I do not support taxpayer dollars going to provide assistance to people of illegal status.

Some time ago, I had a disabled man, who served in the Army National Guard, in my office in desperate need of dental work, which is no longer provided by the Commonwealth. This veteran was extremely upset that the State was considering providing benefits to illegal immigrants while telling him they could not afford to repair his painful teeth. How can we as a Commonwealth tell this man who has served his Country "no", but say "yes" to creating entitlements to illegal immigrants? This proposal shows the Governor and the liberals who support such measures have misguided priorities.

Some proposals floating around Beacon Hill would actually put illegal immigrants ahead of citizens from other states. As an extreme example, under the current proposal, if a solider just returning from Iraq who previously lived in Florida moved to Massachusetts to attend one of our public colleges, he would pay substantially more than an illegal immigrant who came to our Country illegally. Additional, some proposals do not limit the benefits to illegal immigrants from Massachusetts. If passed, this measure will create a wide open door for illegal immigrants from all over to compete for Massachusetts students.

As it is unclear if citizenship will be granted to these students in the future, it is likely that many will never be able to pay income taxes, thus we are paying for education without the likelihood of gaining taxes later. Furthermore, the proponents conveniently neglect to mention that there is currently a law suit filed in Federal Court which could hold that programs that benefit illegal immigrants over citizens from other states is unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution. If this lawsuit is successful, any state offering discounted tuition to illegal immigrants, would also have to offer it to citizens from other states. This could result in Massachusetts citizens losing the ability to have a discounted tuition all together.

To reward illegal immigrants who have violated our laws sends the wrong message to those immigrants who have spent many months and even years waiting in line to enter this country legally and is grossly unfair to the taxpayers.
It is my view that the Commonwealth should be allocating our resources at expanding health care, improving education, and ensuring public safety and not benefits to illegal immigrants!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

You Heard it Here First!

The Capitol View has reported several times that the Patrick administration’s claim that federal stimulus money has created or saved more than 23,000 jobs is likely exaggerated. Well, according to a Boston Globe report, we were right, and you heard it here first! The Globe reports, “The federal stimulus report for Massachusetts has so many errors, missing data, or estimates instead of actual job counts that it may be impossible to accurately tally how many people have been employed by the massive infusion of federal money.”

The article also says, “One of the largest reported jobs figures comes from Bridgewater State College, which is listed as using $77,181 in stimulus money for 160 full-time work-study jobs for students. But Bridgewater State spokesman Bryan Baldwin said the college made a mistake and the actual number of new jobs was “almost nothing.’’ Bridgewater has submitted a correction, but it is not yet reflected in the report.”

Why all the false information, Governor? This article serves as only further proof and validation of what we’ve been saying all along. Governor Patrick needs to wake up and take a look at reality. We don’t like being the bearer of bad news, but the fact of the matter is the Governor is wearing rose colored glasses, saying Massachusetts will recover from the recession quicker than other states, but the truth is Massachusetts is likely to see even worse days ahead. And that is a direct result of the Governor’s misplaced priorities and lack of leadership.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Let us be Thankful for our Veterans

Ronald Reagan once said, “Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not ours by inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to a people. Those who have known freedom, and then lost it, have never known it again.”

On this Veterans’ Day, we must remember that we know freedom because of the millions of Americans who have put their lives on the line. Today, let us honor them, but let us be thankful for them each and every day of the year and not just today. Let us continue to pray every day for those who have paid the ultimate price, and for their families who lost a love one to ensure a free America.

Thanksgiving is still a couple weeks away, but today is certainly a day to be grateful, especially to the hundreds of thousands of veterans that live here in the Commonwealth. Today, The Capitol View salutes them.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Happy Birthday Marine Corps!

For those of you who don’t know, today marks the 234th birthday of the United States Marine Corps. We’d like to take a moment here on The Capitol View to say thank you to all of our Marines. Tomorrow we observe Veterans’ Day, but today let us honor the men and women of the Marine Corps. It was on this day in 1775, that the Marine Corps was established and ever since then, brave Marines have fought in wars all around the Globe in order to protect our freedoms. Thank you Marines and happy birthday.

Semper fidelis!

A Loss for Massachusetts is a Win for Michigan

The New England Economic Partnership is reporting some grim news today. According to the Boston Globe “the nonprofit research group, projects the state will lose more than 60,000 additional jobs before the labor market hits bottom in the third quarter of 2010. That would bring total job losses in this recession to just under 200,000, or 5.9 percent of total employment.” This news comes just one day after the Boston Globe reported that Mascoma, a company that makes a gasoline substitute from wood chips and other materials, is getting ready to open a plant in Michigan where it will create 100 new jobs. Massachusetts, however was originally an option for Mascoma, but apparently, Michigan’s Governor made recruiting the business to her state a priority whereas Governor Patrick did not. In fact, Mascoma’s CEO told the Globe, “Massachusetts, they knew we were looking to build a plant. It wasn’t a priority for them at the time.’’ Why wasn’t it, Governor?

When the Globe asked the Governor about the loss, Patrick said, “We’d like it all, to be sure, but this is good for the country and we get the bragging rights of being the hometown of a pioneer.’’ This isn’t about bragging rights! This is about the Governor’s misplaced priorities and reckless business policies. The Governor needs to be focused on creating jobs not what he can or can’t brag about. This is a loss for Massachusetts that could have been prevented. Unfortunately, Governor Patrick does not possess the leadership to make Massachusetts a more business friendly state. But hey, if you’re an out of work Democratic operative, come to Massachusetts, the Governor will find you a high paying position in his administration.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Administration Out of Touch and Hopefully Almost Out of Time

Could the Patrick Administration possibly be any more out of touch than it is now? We don’t think it’s possible! According to a report in the Boston Globe over the weekend, “As Governor Deval Patrick merges the state’s transportation agencies in an attempt to reduce duplication and waste, a review of payroll records shows that his own administration presided over much of the growth in spending he must now rein in.” The Globe goes on to report, “Since Romney’s last year in office, the number of officials in the Executive Office of Transportation and MassHighway earning at least $100,000 a year more than doubled, from 16 to 37.”

As The Capitol View has reported many times, the Commonwealth is in the midst of a $600 million budget shortfall. The Governor recently announced his plans for dealing with this dilemma. The Globe says, “The Department of Transportation’s budget will be cut by $13.5 million with reductions in the snow and ice removal and overtime budgets. Managers will be asked to take furloughs.” So, cities and towns are going to take a hit so Governor Patrick can keep his overpaid cronies employed? Forget furloughs for the managers, it’s time to lay off some of the people holding duplicated positions with $100,000 plus salaries.

When asked about the MassHighway, an administration spokesman said, “when Patrick became governor, the highway department was “so severely understaffed’’ it could not handle urgent construction projects and was cited for the deficiency by federal highway officials.” Even if that were true, the kind of staff needed is skilled construction workers and laborers, not costly managers who hold do-nothing jobs.

The Governor’s re-election slogan should be “Together we can be wasteful and inefficient and put more hacks on the state’s payroll!”

Unemployment Continues to Rise

Though Governor Patrick continues to claim Massachusetts’ economy is on the road to recovery, news of a spike in unemployment seems to suggest otherwise. As The Capitol View reported, Governor Patrick and his administration have made claims that federal stimulus money provided to the state saved or created more than 23,000 jobs. While the administration has been scrambling around trying to prove that claim, last week media outlets reported that the national unemployment rate has risen to 10.2%, the highest since 1983. Massachusetts unemployment numbers are doing out later this month, but the Commonwealth’s rate was at an all time high last month.

Perhaps it is time we pick up the pace in the Legislature and get to work on legislation that will benefit the people of Massachusetts, not the political allies of the Democrats on Beacon Hill. This economic crisis isn’t going away any time soon and the more we put it off, the worse it will become.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Fix it First!

According to a report in today’s Boston Herald, Governor Patrick appears to be committed to spending more than $3 billion on MBTA expansion projects. This is yet another glaring example of Governor Patrick’s continuous mismanagement of state resources. You would think after the release of a scathing report, detailing a number of safety and financial concerns, the Patrick Administration would back off plans to expand and invest in fixing current structures and services.

The Boston Herald piece cites independent report by David D’Alessandro, who said, “The T can’t even afford to cover necessary safety critical projects totaling $543 million – including an $80 million water leak beneath the Red Line from Harvard Square to Alewife.”

In spite of this report, yesterday Governor Patrick told public transportation users that the system is safe and “promised to restore a culture of safety and transparency of the system.” Is that why he appointed a union friend to the MassDot Board?

Shocker! Massachusetts a “High Cost Region”

As the economy in Massachusetts continues to struggle, the last thing we need is more bad news. Unfortunately, that is exactly what we got. According to an article in today’s Boston Globe, Evergreen Solar, a producer of solar panels, will be moving work overseas. Specifically, the article reports, the assembly of solar panels will now be done in China.

The Globe reports that “About half of the 577 full-time and 230 contract employees at the Devens factory are involved in putting the panels together. Evergreen declined to say how many of those jobs would disappear with the scheduled transfer next year to China, where it is expanding because of lower costs.”
When the company’s CEO was asked the reason behind the move, Richard M. Feldt said “that prices for assembled panels have fallen more than 30 percent in just the last year, making it very difficult for manufacturers located in high-cost regions to remain price competitive.”

How many more companies is the state going to drive away before Massachusetts Democrats realize their policies are the reason for the mass exodus of businesses and jobs? Just last fiscal year, Democratic lawmakers passed the largest corporate tax increase in our state’s history. It is steps like these that make moving to the Commonwealth unattractive for corporations.

Earlier this year, Republican legislators filed legislation to repeal the corporate tax increase. That idea was rejected and instead a whole host of other taxes were raised, including the sales tax. Maybe it’s time to do things a little differently?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Where’s the Job Report, Governor?

Last week, Governor Patrick and his administration claimed federal stimulus money provided to the Bay State “created or retained” 23,533 jobs in Massachusetts since February. As you may recall, The Capitol View reported that the Patrick Administration neglected to provide any kind of report to back up that claim. According to State House News Service, “Administration officials later were unable to provide estimates of how many jobs were created and how many were preserved, or of how many were public-sector jobs and how many were in the private sector. A spokeswoman for stimulus infrastructure czar Jeffrey Simon said the data were not available. “Since we weren’t required to have that breakdown, we don’t readily have that breakdown,” spokeswoman Alethea Pieters said.” In the same article, SHNS reported that a formal report would be filed on Friday. That was more than a week ago, and still no report!

Not that we’re surprised, we certainly are disappointed though to not have any research to substantiate the Governor’s claim. How do we know the administration is being honest with the Massachusetts public? First of all, there’s no report to back it up. Secondly, according to an article by the Associated Press, “The inflated job count is at least partly the product of the administration instructing local community agencies that received money to count the raises as jobs saved.” That just doesn’t pass the smell test!

Today, we call on Governor Patrick to provide that report. It is about time this administration start backing up the random announcements and press releases. Without a report, there is no way to know if the federal stimulus money has had any effect on the state’s job preservation and growth.

Boston Globe Agrees with Us…Gets it Right!

The Boston Globe editorial staff had a major breakthrough today! The Globe published a piece called Transportation: Patrick’s not-so-fresh start and to our surprise, the administration’s Morrissey Boulevard office comes out against one of Governor Patrick’s appointments to the new MassDot Board. We couldn’t agree more.
As the Boston Globe points out, the appointment of Janice Loux to the board is wrong on many levels. First off, she is nothing more than a union holdover whose priority will be looking out for unions not the best interest of the general public.

Secondly, it appears as if she had some level of involvement in ousting former MBTA General Manager Dan Grabauskas. Loux, according to the Globe, “played a key role in Patrick’s struggle to oust former T manager Dan Grabauskas. Loux fired the first public shot against him. She says she was acting on her own initiative, but her appointment to the new agency has the whiff of a reward.”

Is this the fresh start Governor Patrick promised? When asked to respond to criticism about his appointment, Patrick said, “This is new and anything new draws critics.’’

No, Governor, this is not new. The reason your appointment is drawing so much criticism, bipartisan in fact, is because it is the complete opposite of new. Loux served on the MBTA board for more than a decade and if that qualifies her as new, than we don’t want to know what old looks like!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Election Day in the Bay State

Today is Election Day for many communities across the Commonwealth. As thousands of voters head to the polls, we here at The Capitol View look are interested in finding out the results as a wave of anti-incumbency appears to be sweeping through the state.

We want to remind all of you to participate today in your local elections. So, get out there and vote! We would also like to wish all of the candidates the best of luck today in their respective races and look forward to hearing the results later on this evening.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Ceremonial Passing of the Rubber Stamp

The new Massachusetts Department of Transportation board was sworn in today, officially marking the end of Jim Aloisi’s tenure as Transportation Secretary. We’d like to believe his departure signals a new beginning for the state’s transportation system, but unfortunately Governor Patrick has decided to fill more than half of the new 5-member board with recycled transportation agency officials. Is that reform we can believe in?

But as Jim Aloisi moves on, we want to take a moment to reflect on an editorial in today’s Boston Herald. As you may know, Aloisi submitted a close out report to Governor Patrick and the Herald has quoted the letter. For example, Aloisi wrote in the report, “Despite formidable obstacles, a strong platform for meaningful change has been build during my time in office – one that will serve your administration and the people of Massachusetts well. I have established both a new way of doing business…and a new way of thinking about our state’s transportation needs.”

So, let us get this straight? Ousting Dan Grabauskas from his post at the MBTA at a cost of more than $320,000 to the taxpayers will serve the people well? What about the massive traffic delays brought on purposely on Easter Sunday? Is that the strong platform for meaningful change he was talking about?

Talk about selective memory!