Here’s the situation. We live in a state where, for better or worse, the agenda is controlled largely by the Speaker and the Senate President. In almost every case, legislation that actually makes it through both chambers is supported by both of those individuals, and passes by veto-proof margins. The Governor plays a role too, of course, but he cannot force the legislature to do something it doesn’t want to do (as Governor Patrick learned several times), and his options without legislative buy-in are limited.
The current Speaker, Bob DeLeo, would never be mistaken for a progressive. The incoming Senate President, Stan Rosenberg, is a different story. Rosenberg, with a couple of unfortunate blind spots (*cough*casinos*cough*), has taken a number of positions over the years that should look pretty good to a lot of people in these parts. Here’s one example:
Currently, Stan is the prime sponsor of legislation to change the Massachusetts Constitution to eliminate its prohibition against graduated tax rates and he is supporting An Act to Invest in Our Communities, which seeks to restore the income tax rate from 5.3 percent to 5.95 percent, while raising the personal exemption enough to hold down increases for middle-class families. The bill also seeks to raise the tax rate on wealthy investors, while providing a targeted exemption for middle-class seniors.
That’s the guy who, come January, will be running one of the chambers. Of course, nothing like that will get through Bob DeLeo’s House. But under House rules, DeLeo can only remain Speaker through 2016. What happens after that?
There are at least three possibilities. First, the House could change the rules so that DeLeo can remain Speaker. Second, the House could elect a DeLeo clone in 2017 to be the next Speaker. Third, the House could move in a more progressive direction.
Obviously, the third option is the most desirable. And so, it seems to me that the strategy for the next two years should be to make the other two options politically untenable.
Have at it.