Thursday, May 22, 2008

Cutting Government

From the state house news service:

Senate Republicans sparred with Democrats Wednesday night over funding for Gov. Deval Patrick’s administrative operations, pointing to an increase of 78 percent, putting the governor far ahead of previous administrations. “You guys would be screaming bloody murder if there was a Republican governor and he escalated the budget by nearly 100 percent,” said Sen. Michael Knapik. Senate Ways and Means chair Sen. Steven Panagiotakos said about $3 million of the roughly $9 million in Patrick’s line item came from the Commonwealth Corps volunteer initiative that Patrick touted early in his first year. The GOP ridiculed Patrick’s $453,000 filing for his Washington D.C. office, questioning why Patrick kept adding jobs to his administration. “They’re hiring new people from everywhere,” said Senate Minority Leader Richard Tisei. Democratic senators defended Patrick’s D.C. operation, saying the office had helped with funding for fisheries, Medicaid, and small businesses, among others. The GOP effort to strike funding for the office was defeated on a 5-33 roll call. Later, Republicans succeeded in adding an amendment they said would promote transparency within the administration, requiring the online posting of a detailed organizational chart. Senate Democrats also turned back the minority party’s effort to strip the Lottery Commission of its $10 million advertising budget, pointing to shortfalls in Lottery funding and the prospect of creating more gambling addictions. Panagiotakos defended the account, pointing to the Lottery’s success relative to other states’ systems. Sen. Marc Pacheco (D-Taunton) voted against the amendment, but said he thought the state should re-examine the way the Lottery distributes the money.