House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) was joined by the entire House Republican Caucus in voting against the Fiscal Year 2014 budget. The spending plan, which relies heavily on revenue found in the recently passed transportation finance bill, was adopted on a party-line vote – 127 to 29.
“While the taxpayers of Massachusetts have avoided the enormity of Governor Patrick’s $1.9 billion dollar tax hike, our state’s residents should find no comfort in the $500 million dollar tax increase approved by my colleagues across the aisle,” said Representative Jones. “By opposing the Fiscal Year 2014 budget, House Republicans continue to demonstrate our strong opposition to fiscal irresponsibility and our ongoing advocacy for the elimination of waste, fraud and abuse in state government.”
To combat the continued reliance on increasing taxes, House Republicans offered proposals which, had they been adopted, would have saved the taxpayers of Massachusetts a considerable amount of money. Referred to as the “5 and 5 in 5 Plan,” a Republican-led proposal to lower both the sales and income tax to 5% over 5 years, beginning in 2015, was resoundingly defeated. The Democratic majority did, however, embrace the ongoing narrative of the Republican Caucus surrounding the need to reform the Pacheco Law. By agreeing to a modest increase to the threshold in which private contractors are able to bid on state projects, House Democrats recognized the necessity to modernize antiquated government practices which cost taxpayers millions of dollars.
Advocating for the taxpayers of the Commonwealth and their desire for openness and accountability within the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) program, the Republican Caucus presented the members of the House with two comprehensive reform proposals relative to eligibility and the administering of benefits. The Democratic Caucus balked at both opportunities to demonstrate their commitment to eradicating waste, fraud and abuse within taxpayer subsidized assistance programs, and instead sent both proposals to study. In doing so, the Democrats eliminated most of their limited changes to EBT originally contained in the budget.
Finally, the House of Representatives’ continued reliance on non-recurring revenues to balance the budget – over $600 million in the Fiscal Year 2014 budget - further illustrates the Commonwealth’s structural deficiencies. Throughout the budget process House Republicans demonstrated, to no avail, their strong opposition to this fiscally irresponsible approach.
Having passed the House, the budget is now before the Senate for consideration.