Of course it has become personal under the Dome even when they say it hasn’t. The legislature takes criticism, even if mild, like a smoker takes to nicorette. It makes them irritable and often it clouds their judgment, even if they know its right – in fact, particularly when it hits close to the mark.
That is why they are responding to Governor Patrick’s challenge on reform like a schoolyard bully responds to a new principal – with back turned and pride at-stake.
Case in point is the self-defeating and short-sighted decision by the State Senate to zero out the budget for the State’s DC office, all $403,430 of it. No doubt its a slap at the Governor, who increased the DC office staff budget to cover four staffers from one. And I’m sure there are those who, when looking at the budget hole we face, think the DC office is a luxury we can no longer afford. Certainly, the Senate President will use that to justify the decision.
But, what our legislative leaders seem to be overlooking as they try to teach the Guv a lesson is how important that DC office is, particularly now, with the State in the ditch. Federal funds are flowing like never before to fight the recession. Health care, climate change and education reform initiatives are on the move, with big money in the mix and big implications for our own efforts in those areas. And we have a President close to the Governor so its a good time to be making the most of that relationship.
For the legislature, struggling to meet the fiscal gap without decimating vital public services, I’d think anything that could leverage more federal cash or policy assistance would be welcomed in easing the budget pain.
Of course that is what the DC office does, and I’d like to have our State at the table when decisions are made in the DC bureaucracy. Its not enough to depend on Teddy K (fighting illness as he is), Barney, Markey, McGovern and the rest to fight our corner. Yeah, they have seniority and juice, but they also got plenty on. I’m sure they don’t mind the helping hand of the State office down there, making links between initiatives back home and those on the move in DC.
So please, Senate President Murray, Ways and Means Chair Panagiotakis, drop the beef. Undermining our influence in Washington is no way to help yourselves or our State in dealing with the fiscal and economic challenges we face. If you want to call the Governor irrelevant that’s your call, but don’t make our State an irrelevancy in DC to prove your point.