Thursday, April 29, 2010

Senator Tisei's Statement on Bullying Bill

Senate Minority Leader Richard Tisei released the following statement today following the Legislature's passage of anti-bullying legislation:

"I applaud the members of the conference committee for putting together a well-crafted bill that seeks to address the very serious problem of bullying in Massachusetts.

The recent suicide of 15-year-old Phoebe Prince exposed just how inadequate our current laws are, particularly when it comes to addressing the problem of cyber-bullying. No child should ever have to endure the constant harassment that Phoebe and other young bullying victims have been subject to, and my hope is that these changes we have made today will make our schools safer for all students.

This bill sends a clear message that students who are being bullied will be protected and those who are doing the bullying will face serious consequences for their actions. I call on Governor Patrick to sign the bill as soon as it reaches his desk."

In Case You Missed It...

Assistant Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr was on the Fox 25 Morning News' "Tolman and Gray" segment this morning, joining former State Senator Warren Tolman to discuss the latest political news. In case you missed it, here's a link to the complete segment.

Senator Tarr's Fox 25 appearance came less than 24 hours after he appeared as a guest on NECN's Broadside with Jim Braude, along with another former Democratic State Senator, George Bachrach. Click here for the complete roundtable discussion.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

ON THE AIR: Senator Tarr on 'Broadside' Tonight and Fox Morning News Tomorrow

Assistant Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr will be appearing live in-studio as a guest on New England Cable News' Broadside with Jim Braude tonight. The show airs live at 6 p.m., and will be rebroadcast at 8 p.m. on NECN.

On Thursday morning, Senator Tarr will be back on the airwaves when he fills in for Rob Gray on the Fox Morning News' "Tolman and Gray" segment. Senator Tarr will appear live in Fox' Beacon Hill studio with former Senator Warren Tolman beginning around 7:15 a.m. tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ending Beacon Hill's 'Tax-First' Mentality

GOP gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker, Senate Minority Leader Richard Tisei, and members of the Senate Republican Caucus joined Barbara Anderson of Citizens for Limited Taxation for a press conference on the State House steps Monday morning to call for an end to the "tax-first" mentality on Beacon Hill. The press conference took place just hours before the House rejected a proposal to allow communities to circumvent Proposition 2 1/2 with a backdoor tax increase targeting the state's homeowners.

Be sure to check out the media coverage from the Associated Press and the Lowell Sun, as well as the Salem News' editorial.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Herald Assails 'Assault on Taxpayers'

Last Thursday on Scaling The Hill 2010, we reported that the House of Representatives would be debating a municipal relief bill this week that contains language that would allow cities and towns to circumvent the provisions of Proposition 2 1/2 with a backdoor tax on homeowners. House Minority Leader Bradley Jones has already filed an amendment that would delete the offending language, and Senate Minority Leader Richard Tisei has vowed to block any similar attempts in the Senate to raise property taxes without voter approval.

Today's Boston Herald blasts the House proposal as "an assault on property taxpayers" and "a non-starter in a year when taxpayers have already had it up to their eyeballs with tax hikes." If you haven't read it already, be sure to check out the Herald's editorial.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

GOP Leaders: Taxpayers can’t afford to pay anymore

Boston - Citing the poor economy and the already high tax burden, House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. and Senate Minority Leader Richard R. Tisei today vowed to fight against any legislative proposal that would allow cities and towns to raise property taxes on the people of Massachusetts.

This comes after learning that the House Ways and Means Committee proposed allowing municipalities to raise property taxes outside of the constraints of the so-called “proposition 2½ limits” without a local vote.

Given the negative economic climate in Massachusetts, the top Republicans in the House and Senate were outraged to hear that a legislator could be so disconnected to think taxpayers could afford to pay another dollar in property taxes.

“It’s simply mind-boggling that in a time when foreclosure initiations spiked more than 20% from last month, a Democratic lawmaker on Beacon Hill could have the audacity to suggest raising taxes, yet again,” said Representative Jones. “If this isn’t a slap in the face to the taxpayers, I don’t know what is,” the House Republican Leader added.

On Monday, the Massachusetts House of Representatives will take up a Municipal Relief Bill, which contains the proposal. Representative Jones has already filed an amendment that would strike out the language permitting the increase of property taxes absent an override vote.

Citizens for Limited Taxation estimates that property owners could see as much as $550 million in additional property taxes if Chairman Murphy’s proposal is adopted during Monday’s debate.

“This is just another glaring example of one-party rule run amok on Beacon Hill,” said Senator Tisei. “The Governor and the Democratic leadership have raised taxes by more than a billion dollars over the last two fiscal years, driving the Commonwealth’s economy further into the ground. Adding to that burden will only further hurt the state’s competitiveness and tug at the purse strings of hardworking families across the state.”

Republican lawmakers in both the House and Senate have offered hundreds of millions of dollars in cost saving initiatives over the last three budget cycles and they plan to do the same this year as well.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

In Case You Missed It...

Assistant Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (left) joined former Attorney General Scott Harshbarger in Fox 25's Beacon Hill studio earlier this week for the station's popular "Monday Morning Quarterbacks" segment. Tarr and Harshbarger shared their thoughts on last weekend's Republican State Convention, gaming legislation, the SEC's charges against Goldman Sachs, and the Patriots' Day holiday. In case you missed it, you can still access the full segment here.

Friday, April 16, 2010

ON THE AIR: Senator Knapik Discusses Stimulus Funding on the Jeff Katz Show

Senator Michael Knapik appeared as a guest this week on the Jeff Katz Show, RushRadio 1200's morning drive-time program. A member of the Legislature's Joint Committee on Federal Stimulus Oversight, Senator Knapik was interviewed by Katz about some of the questionable projects right here in Massachusetts that have received federal stimulus funding. Be sure to check out the complete interview on the station's online podcast.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Senator Tisei's Tea Party Rally Statement

Senate Minority Leader Richard Tisei has released the following statement to coincide with today's Tea Party Rally:

"As the Minority Leader for the Massachusett State Senate, I would like to take this opportunity to welcome those who are participating in the Tea Party Rally today on Boston Common. It's great to see so many people working against the stereotype of voter apathy and taking an active interest in government right here in the Cradle of American Liberty. Having a motivated and involved electorate that engages in the free exchange of ideas which represent many diverse political viewpoints is essential for our democracy to grow and thrive."

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

ON THE AIR: Senator Tisei on WXBR

Senate Minority Leader Richard Tisei made a stop in the City of Champions this morning, appearing as the in-studio guest on the Kevin Tocci Show, the popular morning show that services the Metro South area on Brockton's WXBR-AM 1460. Senator Tisei is pictured above with host Kevin Tocci.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Your Tax Dollars At Work

It seems to us here at Scaling The Hill 2010 that the Federal Stimulus Project has taken another wrong turn. Over the weekend, the Boston Herald reported that the IRS received roughly $80 million in federal stimulus money to upgrade a 400,000 square foot complex in Andover; they already had on hand $11.4 million for the work. Of all the wasteful projects that have received money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, this one seems to take the cake.

Back on February 13, 2009 when Congress signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, they touted the bill as a tool that would help stimulate the economy, invest in long term growth, and most importantly put the American people back to work. However, the federal government is dishing out millions of dollars to one of its counterparts for “green” renovations when road and bridges need urgent attention and 9.5% of our population is unemployed. Apparently they spoke too soon.

Just last year 1,400 employees were laid off from the Andover site because they were switching over to a more automated system. In addition, the project was listed in a December 2009 report, compiled by Senator McCain, which ranked 100 projects funded by ARRA in which stimulus money was “wasted, mismanaged or directed towards silly and shortsighted projects.” These are two extremely obvious signs that this project will not put people back to work or stimulate the economy in any fashion.

The Obama Administration’s dictionary must be outdated, because our version defines the word “stimulus” as: “Something to excite to activity or growth or to greater activity.” However, we have not seen any of that in Massachusetts. We urge the President to contact us if he needs an updated version of his dictionary.

Friday, April 9, 2010

ON THE AIR: Senator Tisei on the Jeff Katz Show to Discuss Restaurant Rejuvenation Act

Senate Minority Leader Richard Tisei was a guest on RushRadio 1200's Jeff Katz Show this week, where he talked about the Restaurant Rejuvenation Act. The Andelman brothers of Phantom Gourmet fame are backing the bill, which would provide a boost to restaurants by lifting the Sunday morning ban on alcohol sales.
Be sure to check out Senator Tisei's interview, along with the website the Andelmans have started to promote the legislation.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Senate Approves GOP Salary Cap Proposal for Quasi-Public State Agencies on 35-2 Vote

Seeking to provide more transparency and accountability to the state’s taxpayers, the Senate today approved a Republican-sponsored amendment to curb excessive salaries at the state’s independent authorities.

The amendment prohibits quasi-public agencies from paying any employee a salary that exceeds the Governor’s, which is currently about $143,000 a year. It was adopted on a vote of 35-2 as part of a larger bill that reorganizes the state’s economic development agencies, many of which are quasi-public entities.

“This amendment will impose some much-needed financial controls and accountability on these agencies, which often tend to fly under the radar and operate out of the public eye,” said Senate Minority Leader Richard R. Tisei. “For too long, these agencies have functioned as a kind of ‘shadow government,’ and it’s about time we cast some light on them so the public will know how their tax dollars are being spent.”

Tisei noted that more than 50 independent authorities currently exist in Massachusetts and employ close to 15,000 people. Last year, more than 1,000 of these employees earned over $100,000 in salaries. In some cases, salaries at these agencies have exceeded $200,000 and even $300,000.

The amendment allows for salaries higher than $143,000 to be paid, but only if the agency in question can justify the pay differential in writing. The Secretary of Administration and Finance would also need to sign off on the higher salary before it could take effect.

The economic development bill now heads to the House of Representatives for further action.

Be sure to check out the media coverage of the salary cap proposal from the Boston Herald and WCVB-TV Channel 5.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Globe Highlights Caucus' Efforts to Assist Small Businesses and Independent Contractors

A story in today's Boston Globe highlights the plight of many small businesses and contract workers since the state changed the definition of independent contractors in the 2004 public construction reform act. Although this change was made to prevent construction companies from denying workers benefits they had rightly earned, the Department of Revenue has used the 2004 law to aggressively target people working in many other professions.

The Senate Republican Caucus offered an amendment during last week's economic development reorganization debate to limit the changes to individuals working in the building trades, and to allow those workers who have historically been classified and treated as independent contractors -- including hairdressers, freelance writers and photographers, and CPAs -- to retain this designation.

Click here to read the full story.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

MA Gets Poor Grades on Greater Boston Chamber's Tax Competitiveness Scorecard

It’s no secret that Massachusetts is a high-cost state for employers. But a new report from the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce underscores one of the biggest reasons why companies are so reluctant to do business in Massachusetts.

According to the Chamber’s latest tax competitiveness scorecard, which was just released today, Massachusetts has the eighth highest corporate tax burden in the country. That puts the state at a huge disadvantage compared to much of the New England region and the rest of the nation when it comes to attracting employers and jobs.

With a corporate tax burden that is 39 percent higher than the national average, the Chamber warns that “the average company looking to hire, expand, or locate will find Massachusetts much less attractive than competitor states.” Meanwhile, with the state's unemployment rate reaching a 34-year high of 9.5 percent, the Patrick Administration has yet to offer anything that even remotely resembles a statewide economic plan to assist businesses and get Massachusetts' residents back to work.

Be sure to check out the Chamber’s press release, which contains a link to the full report.

Monday, April 5, 2010

ON THE AIR: Senator Knapik Discusses Bullying Issues on Chicopee's WWLP-TV

Senator Michael R. Knapik (right) was one of several guests featured in a discussion of school bullying issues that aired Sunday on Chicopee's WWLP-TV Channel 22. Also weighing in on the need for stronger anti-bullying measures were defense attorney Henry Rigali, South Hadley Selectman John Hine, and Sirdeaner Walker, whose 11-year-old son committed suicide after being bullied by his classmates.

To see the full report, click here.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Senate Republicans Promote Business Assistance, Target Quasi-Public Agency Salaries

The Senate Republican Caucus has filed a series of amendments to assist small businesses and cap salaries at the state’s quasi-public agencies. These amendments will be voted on today when the Senate debates legislation to consolidate the state’s economic development agencies.

Senate Minority Leader Richard R. Tisei said the Caucus’ amendments will help to reduce the cost of doing business for the state’s employers and attempt to open up lines of credit for small business owners. The Caucus will also target some of the exorbitant salaries paid by the state’s independent authorities.

The amendments include:

-- A proposal to correct changes in the law defining independent contractors. These changes – introduced as part of the 2004 public construction reform bill – have had a negative impact on small businesses by reclassifying many individuals who work in occupations that have historically been identified and treated as independent contractors as regular employees, making these positions subject to such employer requirements as workers compensation and unemployment insurance.

-- A plan for promoting more bank lending to small businesses. Under this proposal, the State Treasurer – who oversees the deposit and investment of the state’s cash reserves – would be required to establish a preference for those banking and lending institutions that exceed the statewide average for lending to small businesses.

-- A ban on excessive salaries at the state’s independent authorities. The state currently has more than 50 of these quasi-public agencies, which collectively employ nearly 15,000 individuals but often operate out of the public eye, with little accountability to the state’s taxpayers. This amendment would prohibit these agencies from paying any employee an amount that exceeds the Governor’s annual salary (currently about $143,000 a year), unless the reasons for the pay differential are explained in writing and signed off by the Secretary of Administration and Finance. Last year, more than 1,000 employees earned salaries in excess of $100,000.

Today’s Senate debate is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m.