Citizens for Limited Taxation & Government
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*** CLT&G Update ***
Thursday, May 7, 1998

"The Best Legislature Money Can Buy"
Again Lives Up to Its Reputation

Greetings activists and supporters;

Never let it be said that our state Legislature will ever disappoint us "cynics" or act out-of-character.
It’s become so incredibly blatant on Beacon Hill that even The Boston Globe can no longer deny what Barbara’s lone voice has insisted since Tom Finneran snatched the Speakership by gaining the unanimous support of House Republicans:

Speaker Thomas "Imperious Maximus" Finneran now runs the Commonwealth of Massachusetts with an iron fist, and none dare resist but at their own peril.

The people are no longer represented in the House; only Finneran’s interests and whims matter. Welcome to the New Peoples Republic.

We are no longer alone in this view; better late than never.

Chip Ford—

PS. House Minority Leader David Peters’ (R-Charlton) amendment (# 250) to the budget bill to roll back the income tax rate to 5 percent and "keep the promise" was defeated by a vote of 34-118. Hey Dave, we lost our ballot question by only 26 signatures. After that silly cheap shot at Barbara yesterday, you should have done *your* job at least as well, buddy . . . or not have so foolishly exposed yourself in advance.

The Boston Globe
Thursday, May 7, 1998

Lead Editorial: Finneran’s tightening fist

For centuries, the founding fathers of most democracies have created two-branch legislatures with a common design: The larger House is a more direct reflection of the voices and passions of the citizenry, while the smaller Senate is more tightly controlled by insiders.

Thomas M. Finneran, speaker of the Massachusetts House, has turned this design on its head, a fact demonstrated once again in this week’s budget debate.

Yesterday Finneran pushed through a $90 million tax break for business in the form of a reduction in unemployment insurance payments. Many key members of Finneran’s own Democratic majority knew nothing about it before it hit the floor. The budget also contains education funds for cities and towns, some of which would be distributed under a formula enacted by Finneran recently as part of the local aid resolution, again without warning or consulting with most of the members.

And to encourage loyalty, Finneran has proposed pay raises of $7,500 to $15,000, retroactive for more than a year, for some of his subordinates, including four floor monitors who do practically nothing besides following Finneran’s orders. No Legislature in the United States gives its presiding officer anything remotely approaching the power Finneran wields to name committee chairmen and other leadership positions and reward them with elevated pay.

One result is that many members grumble about the lack of initiative open to them - but they grumble quietly. There is little of the spirited dissent that has been a House tradition for decades. When dissent has appeared, Finneran has sometimes put it down with steely swiftness.

Through history, the potential shortcomings of the larger legislative branch have been seen not in autocracy but in its opposite. James Madison, in writing of the rationale for Congress, cited the propensity of ‘’numerous assemblies to yield to the impulse of sudden and violent passions,’’ a quality that he argued should be balanced by the more sober Senate.

In Massachusetts, the Senate president, Thomas Birmingham, allows more internal democracy than his immediate predecessors, William Bulger and Kevin Harrington, but he is still the guiding officer.

The big change has been in the House, where Finneran has nearly complete control but continues to consolidate power. Some talented members have left, frustrated, and the number of new candidates for the House has plummeted. The only impulses detectable in the House now are from Finneran himself.

The Boston Globe
Thursday, May 7, 1998
House OK’s raises for 10 in leadership
By Geeta Anand, Globe Staff

The House yesterday overwhelmingly approved pay raises as high as $15,000 for Speaker Thomas M. Finneran’s top supporters in the Legislature after the leadership quashed all debate on the issue.

The amendment to the proposed $19.5 billion budget, strongly opposed by Republicans, gives eight Democrats and two Republicans in leadership positions in the House salary increases of $7,500 or $15,000.

All Democrats except for Finneran’s nemesis, Representative Christopher J. Hodgkins of Lee, voted for the pay increases, but several said privately that they disagreed with giving four of the 10 beneficiaries - so-called "division leaders" who are charged with counting votes - the raises because they do little extra work.

The vote was 126-to-29 in favor of the pay increases, with all Republicans and Hodgkins weighing in against them.

Even some of those who ended up voting for the measure, such as Representative John Stasik, a Framingham Democrat, said they were stunned by the way the debate was controlled.

"Half the people didn’t know what was happening," Stasik said.

"It was an absolute trick to slide that thing through without open discourse or debate," said Representative John A. Locke, a Wellesley Republican. "I approached the rostrum with my amendment in hand to be told the bill could not be amended further."

Locke had proposed two facetious amendments: one, that the Finneran supporters be paid in "pork rinds" rather than money. The second took aim at the four division leaders receiving raises, requiring that they "wear atop their heads a white stovepipe hat, upon which shall be printed the words, in 30-point black boldface type, ‘Teacher’s Pet.’"

The House leadership prevented Locke’s tongue-and-cheek proposal from being discussed by pushing through an amendment beforehand that precluded other proposals from discussion.

On a more serious note, House Minority Leader David M. Peters, a Charlton Republican, said he wanted to take the four division leaders out of the bill but was unable to do so because no other amendments were allowed.

Representative Douglas W. Stoddart, a Natick Republican, took the floor later in the evening to say Finneran had broken a personal promise to notify him before bringing the pay raises to a vote.

"I believe it was a breach of a promise between you and me," he said.

Finneran took offense at complaints about debate being quashed. He said that it was he who insisted on a roll call vote, which he said afforded every member a chance to weigh the issue.

Calling the complaints "moronic," Finneran said: "You folks write whatever you want. I have work to do."

In the past, Finneran has said the House leaders deserve the extra pay because he relies on them to do additional work.

Peters sided with Finneran, saying he had the right as speaker to block amendments and had been responsible in allowing a roll call vote.

The pay raises, retroactive to January of 1997, would cost taxpayers about $120,000 a year. In addition to the four division leaders, the others receiving raises are the chairmen and vice chairmen of the long-term debt and rules committees and the ranking Republicans on those two committees.

House members earn $46,200 a year, and with the raises Finneran’s team would see their salaries boosted to either $53,700 or $61,200.

The pay raises will be the subject of negotiation when the budget goes to the Senate, where the plan died last year. Budget debate is expected to conclude today.

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"The only alternative to limited taxation and government is unlimited taxation and government"