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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Premature victory lap

At least House Speaker Robert DeLeo got one day to savor his preemptive claim to the reform mantle.

One day after the Globe runs a DeLeo op-ed patting the House on the back for moving forward with pension, ethics and transportation reform -- before any final legislation has been enacted -- the newspaper comes back with the reminder that reform is in the eye of the beholder:
The task of cleaning up pension abuses has deeply divided Massachusetts lawmakers, who are not only wrangling over sweeping reforms, but also confronting whether they should give up pension enhancements for many members of their own chambers.
And guess which branch is on the side of grandfathering current lawmakers to protect their claims for early retirement bonus payments?
State Representative Robert P. Spellane, chairman of a conference committee that is trying to forge a compromise and may issue recommendations as early as today, said last week that he believes the law requires the Legislature to exempt current members from elimination of the benefit.
The Worcester Democrat is relying on the goodwill of his colleagues to just say no:
The Globe checked legislative biographies and found that more than 45 percent of legislators are presently qualified for the benefit or will be qualified while still in their 40s or early 50s if they keep their seats. Spellane said he would expect very few legislators of that pool of 93 to take the termination pensions. "In the eight years I have been in the Legislature only three put in for it."
The honor system. Good luck with that.

While Spellane cites a 1973 SJC advisory opinion, the Senate is equally adamant: "You can't justify them," says Senate Ways and Means Committee Chairman Steven Panagiotakos.

The conference committee report should be interesting reading, particularly in light of DeLeo's victory dance.

The only question is who will win -- legislators or taxpayers.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bobby's op-ed was so self-serving that they should have required him to pay an advertising fee! (By the way, a reporter could ask if he accepts the payment offered by the Globe for op-ed's?)

May 11, 2009 6:44 AM  
Blogger Judy Meredith said...

The Globe offers payment for op-eds?

May 11, 2009 8:05 AM  

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