May 22, 2013
Boston – Senator Richard J. Ross (R-Wrentham) joined his colleagues in the Senate Republican Caucus in filing several amendments to the Senate Committee on Ways and Means budget proposal to Fiscal Year 2014. These initiatives seek to put controls and cuts on taxes, raise revenue without increasing taxes, and promote responsible spending and fiscal discipline.
“As we navigate this difficult economic period, it is so important that we, as a Legislature, take every opportunity to evaluate state funding and enhance economic development,” said Senator Ross. “These innovative proposals would offer valuable means of fiscal evaluation and job creation to increase revenue and spur economic recovery.”
“Despite the laudable efforts of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means to level fund or reduce the funding for more than 300 line items, the overall cost of the budget now before us represents a 4.4% increase for Fiscal Year 2014 over the current year,” said Senator Bruce E. Tarr (R-Gloucester). “Given the uncertainty of the continuing economic recovery and the proposed $350 million withdrawal from the stabilization fund, we need to exhaust every option to save money, capture efficiencies, boost economic growth and generate revenue that doesn’t come from tax increases.”
Unfortunately the committee’s budget proposal does not offer meaningful reforms to public subsidy and government welfare programs that are wracked with fraud and government waste. Seeking to provide safeguards on such precious and needed programs, the Senate Republican Caucus offered several amendments aimed to achieve that goal. Those amendments include:
• Amendment #76 would allow the Attorney General to seek recovery of any previously issued public assistance benefits from a recipient convicted under state or federal law for the use of a weapon of mass destruction, with the recovered money going to benefit the victims of the acts of terror.
• Amendment #549 would require all future EBT cards issued by the Department of Transitional Assistance to include the fraud detection phone number and web address.
• Amendment #573 would authorize the Department of Transitional Assistance to terminate the benefits of recipients of welfare benefits if their mailing address becomes unknown. The amendment would also prohibit the Department of Transitional Assistance to continue using numerical placeholders instead of valid social security numbers for a prolonged period of time.
• Amendment #583 requires the nearly operational Integrated Eligibility System (IES) maintained by the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) to cross-check social security numbers of applicants from state and federal data sources and to track eligibility of public subsidies.
Other amendments filed by the Senate Republican Caucus include jobs creation incentives and higher education opportunities for veterans. Some of these proposals include:
• Amendment #130 would mandate agencies review all rules and regulations biennially to reduce economic impact on small businesses and require any state agency approving a grant of over $500,000 to submit a cost-benefit analysis of the grant to the Legislature.
• Amendment #157 creates a job incentive tax credit eligible to companies that increase their net employment figures in the Commonwealth.
• Amendment #330 would provide tuition and fee waivers for Massachusetts veterans and active duty service members who are permanent and legal residents of the Commonwealth.
The amendments filed by the Senate Republican Caucus are part of an initiative to make government more efficient.
Please contact the office of Senator Ross with any questions or concerns at (617) 722-1555 or Richard.Ross@masenate.gov.