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Do your research on our legislators

October 22, 2012

Edited 10/22/12 10:52 a.m. to clarify the circuit breaker vote in the legislature.

It has been well-documented on 180 and elsewhere that one of the major reasons why Walpole finds itself in a fiscal crisis this year is because of burdensome mandates from the state and federal government.

Imagine my bemusement, then, when I read that two prominent town officials, both passionate override supporters who have routinely attacked and criticized those who disagree with them, wrote two long letters to the editor in last week’s Walpole Times calling on citizens to re-elect one of our town’s state representatives – Norwood Democrat John Rogers.

The premise of both letters, one by School Committee Chairwoman Nancy Gallivan and the other by Finance Committee member Alice Susan Lawson, seems to be that Rogers is irreplaceable in the state House of Representatives, and that he has been a strong supporter and friend of Walpole.

Without passing judgment on Rep. Rogers, in the list below, 180 has provided a few key votes that some of our state representatives have taken in the last two years that have been against Walpole’s interests. This list is for the benefit of those in town government who continue to deny that maybe our legislators are part of the reason, not part of the solution, for our community’s fiscal crisis. This mentality is holding us back.

Above all, please do your research before voting on November 6.

There are a number of other votes that our state representatives have taken against Walpole’s interests, but it is so difficult to get roll calls for them that 180 can’t include them here (but 180 will welcome submissions from readers.)

  • In 2012, State Reps. John Rogers, Lou Kafka, and Paul McMurtry all voted to send off to study (Beacon Hill terminology for killing a bill) an amendment to the FY 2013 state budget that would have exempted cities and towns from having to pay the 21 cents-per-gallon gas tax on fuel for their municipal vehicles. The exemption would have saved communities across the state about $15 million. (Rep. Dan Winslow voted to support the amendment.)
  • In 2012, State Reps. John Rogers, Lou Kafka, and Paul McMurtry voted against an amendment that would have substantially increased the amount of money for the circuit breaker special education program in the FY 2013 state budget. The circuit breaker program has been significantly underfunded in the last few years with the recession. Because this line item is not adequately funded by the state, it has been a significant financial hit to the Walpole school district. (An increase in circuit breaker funding did eventually make it into the FY 2013 budget. Rep. Rogers later said he had always planned to support more circuit breaker funding, but didn’t want to jeopardize the increase by voting for the lower amendment. This doesn’t make any sense.) (Rep. Dan Winslow supported the amendment.)
  • In March 2011, State Reps. John Rogers, Lou Kafka, and Paul McMurtry voted to kill an amendment to the FY 2012 budget that would have provided $25 million to cities and towns to cover snow and ice removal costs after the devastating winter between 2010 and 2011. (State Rep. Dan Winslow supported the amendment.)
  • In November 2011, State Reps. John Rogers, Lou Kafka, and Paul McMurtry voted to kill an amendment to a supplemental budget bill for FY 2012 that would have increased local aid to cities and towns by $344 million. (Rep. Dan Winslow supported the amendment.)

Everybody who supported the override, and those that didn’t, should follow up their “investment in education” by voting out our incumbent legislators who have voted against Walpole’s interests. Unfortunately, none of our legislators, except Rogers, are opposed this year.

One of the biggest arguments that our legislators often use to justify their votes above is that our state budget only has so much money to go around, and budget amendments to increase local aid or to provide more money to cities and towns are unfeasible in tough times.

On its face, every taxpayer of Walpole should find this explanation absolutely laughable.

Consider the fact that last year State Rep. Lou Kafka collected almost $3,000 in taxpayer money for per diems just for driving to work (he lives in Stoughton – hardly a tough commute.) How many textbooks, computers, or school supplies would that $3,000 buy for our school district?

On a larger scale, one does not need to look very far to find opportunities for savings in the state budget (whatever happened to Charlie Baker’s “Baker’s Dozen” $1 billion in proposed cuts to the state budget? That was at least a start.)

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Kevin M. permalink
    October 24, 2012 8:17 AM

    How about you do YOUR research on your article first?

    “There are a number of other votes that our state representatives have taken against Walpole’s interests, but it is so difficult to get roll calls for them that 180 can’t include them here (but 180 will welcome submissions from readers.)”

    Here is my submission – http://www.mass.gov/legis/journal/main.htm – the website that allows you to search for every roll call going back to 2001.

    • October 24, 2012 9:25 AM

      So are you saying my research is inaccurate? Why don’t you put your name on that charge?

  2. Kevin M. permalink
    October 24, 2012 11:47 AM

    My name is Kevin, your name is Sam. If you want more information as to restrict the reader’s posting ability and stifle debate… well we know how much you rant against that at TM, so lets see how it works in your arena.

    My point was not to say your research was inaccurate, but your statement “it is so difficult to get roll calls for them that 180 can’t include them here” is misleading and makes an insinuation that the legislature is hiding their votes from the public.

    The FACTS are that they have a website going back to 2001 with every roll-call vote. Accessing a website should not be “difficult”, by any stretch of the definition, for a blogger.

    So while your research may not be inaccurate, it is certainly incomplete and misleading.

    -Kevin

    • October 24, 2012 12:56 PM

      What is your last name, Kevin?
      I don’t know what you are referring to when you say “if you want more information as to restrict the reader’s posting ability and stifle debate…well we know how much you rant against that at TM, so lets see how it works in your arena”
      Roll calls are very difficult to find and, yes, the legislature does go to great lengths to make it difficult for the public to see how their legislators vote.
      If you believe my information is incomplete, please provide examples of roll calls I have missed.

  3. Tom permalink
    October 24, 2012 1:52 PM

    Kevin M.
    You assume that all votes are roll call. Many things pass at all hours, but in particular late at night in the legislature on “voice” votes. You cannot look up voice votes on the internet and that is where the do the dirty work.
    Many of the votes on gambling were voice votes to avoid being on the record.

  4. Robert Luce permalink
    October 24, 2012 9:50 PM

    Very nicely said to bad more people don’t do there home it is time the republican to take over. And make change and then maybe the people will follow the people running this town very nice job

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