Beacon Hill firefight
That initial skirmish between Deval Patrick and House Speaker Robert DeLeo is starting to really percolate. And no, not over why lawmakers dawdled until the last few days of a do-nothing autumn to pass a charter school bill in only one branch.
Nope, this is over lawmakers heading out of town for the remainder of the calendar year leaving a lot of fiscal matters undone.
Deval heads into the Statehouse press room? You know he's looking to raise the temperature by heading straight into the fire himself.
“It’s more than a little frustrating that they would leave for whatever it is, six or seven weeks, with so much of the Commonwealth’s vital business undone,’’ Patrick said during a rare, unscheduled visit to the State House press room.
“It’s my hope that the members will realize that their rules are of their own making, that they have it in their own power to work a couple of more days, or frankly, as long as it takes to get this work done.’’
While DeLeo may or may not have ground to stand on in refusing to stick around to deal with the education bill, the excuses coming out of the Speaker's brain trust about the state of the state's finances are, um, laughable.
“We solved the budget gap last night,’’ [House Ways and Means Chairman Charles] Murphy said. “We gave him $484 million in cuts. What we have currently is a $190 million deficit. The $600 million was a simple projection we may or may not face down the road. We did what we needed to do. We didn’t agree with the governor in lockstep, but that doesn’t make it wrong or incomplete.’’"We solved the budget gap"? Can't wait to see him eat those words. Maybe that's why DeLeo is reportedly not talking to anyone -- including the governor.
What we have here is an old-fashioned spitting contest between a Legislature that has as much contempt for a chief executive as I have seen in the time I have been watching Beacon Hill. That contempt is so deep that they chose not to give Patrick the tools to make the politically tough cuts in non-executive agencies, cuts he will be blamed for anyway.
But more amazingly, it has led them to defend the indefensible -- the Quinn bill and the continuation of Evacuation Day and Bunker Hill Day paid holidays. And all the while they have come up with no alternative of their own.
Nor do I find a lot of credence in Murphy's Senate counterpart, Steve Panagiotakos, saying they haven't had the time because Patrick only submitted his proposals on Oct. 31.
Mr. Chairman -- are you really a creature of the governor? You don't have your staff analyze trends during the Great Recession because you must wait for the executive branch's recommendations?
So while Martha, Mike and Pags offer sound bites on who's a better 60th vote on health care reform (assuming any of them will be seated when the final, unamendable bill comes to a vote in Washington), I'll focus on the smoldering embers of one doozy of a battle brewing on Beacon Hill.