A Special Report from
Last Monday night I attended the swearing-in of the new
Secretary of Administration and Finance, Steve Crosby, replacing Andrew Natsios who is now in charge of the
I know some of you were concerned when Steve was chosen over
our long-time legislative ally Peter Forman and the Herald headline read: "Gov's new fiscal czar no
diehard Republican." I was concerned too, less because of his years working with
Kevin White than by his recent support of Scott Harshbarger (though he gave money
to Paul Cellucci too). So I did call around, and was assured that he is solidly in
support of the income tax rollback.
He called me last week to reiterate this, and invited me to
his swearing-in -- at which he stated, first before anything else, his "personal commitment to the rollback of the
income tax rate." The room, filled with his family and friends, applauded
enthusiastically (including Kevin White!).
Chip Ford theorizes that Steve Crosby may well be "Nixon
opening China," someone who can get the support of elements of the political community that we don't usually
have on board with our petitions.
He later said that his first internal policy initiative will
be "online government -- to maximize the internet," something which I know many of you have been wanting.
Peter Forman was there, cheerfully helping to show Steve's
family and friends around the State House; he told me he is looking forward to working with the new Secretary.
So am I.
P.S. For those who have missed CLT on talk radio: I am now on
WMEX every Thursday from noon-1:00 with Marjorie Clapprood and another "Out to Lunch" guest.
OK, it's not "The Governors," but it's kind of fun. The format is borrowed from Bill
Maher, people talking about things they aren't known for talking about: we have
discussed television shows, fashion, reincarnation, bisexual dolphins, our mothers and
our kids along with the Big Dig, Red Sox stadium subsidy, legislative bad behavior (an
area where Marjorie and I agree) and of course taxes. Have to start reaching those
soccer moms if we are going to win in November. Tune in at 1060 AM, or if the signal
is weak, on the internet at http://www.wmex.com.
State House News Service
Advances -- Week of June 12th
FISCAL 2001 BUDGET: House and Senate budget conferees are in
place and meeting regularly, hoping to get a budget to Gov. Cellucci by the July 1 start of fiscal
2001. The two branches are at odds over major matters like taxes, the future of
special education, the number of Appeals Court judges that should be added to the system,
and an overhaul of the public construction system. And they disagree over bottom line
spending, with the House bill totaling $21.7 billion and the Senate's $21.55 billion. If
conference committee negotiations reflect those of recent years, the final bill will likely
weigh in at more than $21.7 billion. Outside sections in the House bill number 500;
there are 310 in the Senate's version.
[Note: Bear in mind that the following proposed
"supplemental budgets" are in addition to the $20-plus billion state budget passed five months late
in November of last year for this fiscal year! Add them to this year's the bottom line.]
NEW FISCAL 2000 SUPP BUDGET: The $4 billion-plus Medicaid
program continues to consume taxpayer dollars quickly, especially in light of claims by
providers that Medicaid payments are not covering costs. A $255 million fiscal 2000
supplemental budget filed last Thursday by Gov. Cellucci is headlined by a $197
million appropriation to allow Medicaid to pay its bills as the fiscal year winds
down.... An end-of-the-fiscal-year supplemental budget is a tradition on
Beacon Hill as lawmakers are annually called on to appropriate funds for programs that have run out
of money or for emergency needs. Because the "supp" budget is destined for
passage, it's always a target of special interests and lawmakers in search of
a vehicle to get their pet projects and initiatives to the governor's desk.
OLD FISCAL 2000 SUPP BUDGET/REGISTRY:
As lawmakers consider the new mid-year spending bill, they still have an old mid-year
spending bill before them. The House (149-0/May 3) and Senate (38-0/June 8) have each approved different
supplemental budgets (H 5139 and S 2218) that may go to a conference committee if
the branches are not able to iron out their differences in a less formal manner. The
Senate bill includes $50 million in road and bridge funding and $13 million to shore up
operations at the Registry of Motor Vehicles. The House bill includes $13
million for the Registry, but not the $50 million, which the House included in its main fiscal 2001
budget. The branches appear, for the first time in a while, to be on the same page
concerning Registry funding.
[Didn't you just know it was only a matter of time! With
the outrageous "Teachers Early Retirement" bill that the governor vetoed yesterday, the floodgates have opened.
If it passes (see the Boston Herald report below), expect every public employees
union to demand equal access to your wallet!]
State House News Service
Week of June 5, 2000
Encouraged by Teacher Retirement
Prison Officers Say "Us, Too"
Correctional officers on the front lines of minimum security
facilities renewed their call to be allowed to retire five years early, as a reward for dealing with dangerous inmates.
The powerful teachers unions have pushed to Gov. Cellucci's desk a bill granting
significant retirement sweeteners. Cellucci spokesmen say they don't like the prison
officers' request any more than the teacher bill because they fear both proposals will
drain away experienced public servants. Cellucci is set to veto the teacher bill on
Sunday, but lawmakers have plenty of votes for an override.
The Boston Herald
Monday, June 12, 2000
Early teacher retirement bill
cut down by governor's veto
by J.M. Lawrence
Gov. Paul Cellucci vetoed an early retirement bill for
teachers yesterday and launched radio ads contending the law would create a teacher shortage by prompting thousands
to quit for bigger pensions.
"This legislation represents an abandonment of education
reform and our schoolchildren by our state Legislature," Cellucci said during an afternoon news
conference yesterday, the last day he could veto the bill.
Squaring off against legislators who have unanimously
approved the measure and are likely to override his veto, the governor accused lawmakers of putting the interests of
the Massachusetts Teachers Union ahead of children's education needs. He vetoed the
measure in part to force lawmakers to have their votes recorded, he said.
"We're going to know who's stepping up for the children of
the commonwealth and who's not," Cellucci said.
But Rep. John P. Slattery (D-Peabody), one of the sponsors
of the bill, said Cellucci wants revenge against the MTA for opposing his election. "There is an antipathy on
the governor's part to the MTA and that antipathy blinds him to the needs of
the commonwealth," he said yesterday.
The governor's radio ads airing today don't mention the
union by name but refer to "special interests." His campaign fund bought the ads.
Overriding his veto would require a two-thirds majority of
both the House and Senate. The bill, which has been circulating in various forms at the State House over the past
three years, would allow full retirement benefits after 30 years of teaching.
Stephen Gorrie, president of the MTA, waited outside the
State House yesterday to counter Cellucci's claims that the bill will create a teacher shortage at a crucial time in
education reform when students must pass state exams to graduate in 2003. "One
thing he keeps forgetting is this is an optional program," Gorrie said.
About 23,000 teachers -- more than 25 percent of the state's
classroom teachers -- would be eligible to take early retirement over the next five years, the governor said,
predicting "a mass exodus."
In the first year alone, 8,000 teachers could leave, he
But Gorrie called those numbers misleading because not all
of the teachers who are eligible would leave their jobs. And as veteran teachers retire, almost 17,000 teaching
graduates who have passed the state's exam in the past two years are ready to
take their places, Gorrie noted.
"This is about allowing new teachers to energize the
classroom and older teachers to go out with dignity," said Thomas McGee (D-Lynn).
The early retirement bill will help school systems keep and
recruit teachers who might otherwise be lured to other states such as Connecticut and Rhode Island, which have
better retirement plans, according to the MTA. Regardless of lawmakers' actions, 40
to 50 percent of Massachusetts teachers are expected to retire over the next eight
Critics of the measure, including Boston University
Chancellor John Silber, say the law would let retired teachers double dip by returning to the classroom at ages as young as
Lee called that argument "another red herring" and noted
teachers cannot return to the classroom for two years after retiring.