Commonwealth Magazine reports that there are some sore feelings on the part of new House Ways and Means Chair Jeffrey Sanchez about the Senate’s work on criminal justice reform.
Pointing to the Senate’s failure to include additional funding for a youth anti-violence program in the supplemental budget that’s moving in the Legislature, Representative Sanchez “said he’s tired of hearing the Senate’s rhetoric in support of sweeping criminal justice reforms when it isn’t stepping up to fund programs… that can make a tangible difference today.”
A little backstory: during the annual budget process earlier this year, the Senate was actually proposing more funding for this program than the House was. Then when the bottom fell out on the state’s revenues, the House and Senate reluctantly cut the funding for this program, as they did for quite a few others. The notion that the Senate’s failure to provide more funding in this supplemental budget amounts to a pattern of failing to back up rhetoric with action is, well, unconvincing.
Rep. Sanchez was further irked by the rally the Senate held in support of its criminal justice reform bill last week, noting that it took place “right outside his office.” People familiar with the layout of offices in the State House will observe that the House Ways and Means Committee occupies some very prime real estate just next to the Grand Staircase, where rallies are held almost daily and where the Senate rally happened. Surely he doesn’t think that every rally that takes place there amounts to “vilifying the work of members of the House,” as he said of the Senate’s rally last Thursday. He also reproached the Senate for “presuming the House will be an obstacle to reform.” Hmm. When House leadership says that a vote on a criminal justice reform bill will happen in less than a month’s time but (unlike the Senate) refuses to comment on the topics that might be covered in the bill, I, for one, am hard pressed to rule out even the possibility of a little obstruction.
Let’s hope that the Representative’s call to “find a way to work together and stop this grandstanding” prevails over his present irritation. An end to political grandstanding always begins at home.