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The high cost of empty promises

Last year, the Massachusetts legislature thought it would be just nifty if they offered free dental care to poor pregnant women and new mothers. It was part of the whole feel-good, nanny-state mentality that embodies much of what Massachusetts does.

But then, it came time to actually put their money where these women's mouths were, and that was when things changed. When confronted with the fiscal reality, the legislature decided that it was more work than it was worth, so they just chose to ignore it. Even though it was written into the law, they decided that they just wouldn't implement it, saving themselves the effort and money to follow through on their promise.

Surprisingly, some people had actually believed the legislature when they made the initial promise. And even more astonishingly, they're suing the state to get them to actually follow the laws they passed.

This is Massachusetts politics in a nutshell: an idea that sounds good runs amok, everyone jumps behind the idea, then when it comes down to brass tacks, the lawmakers weasel out of it and toss their promises on to the trash heap. And then people who actually thought that the promises of lawmakers meant something get angry and take action.

But in the end, one thing stays the same: they'll keep re-electing the same lawmakers who screw them over time and time again, until they come to their senses and flee the state.


Comments (8)

OK OK OK I read it 3 times ... (Below threshold)
Paul:

OK OK OK I read it 3 times and you did not explicitly say you wanted the typo in the head so I'm fixing it. -- Won't catch me making that mistake again. ;-)

Who is dumber: The average ... (Below threshold)
edmcgon:

Who is dumber: The average Massachusetts voter OR the average Massachusetts politician? Hmmm...

I couldn't get my teeth don... (Below threshold)
Synova:

I couldn't get my teeth done when I was pregnant (well, I had one wisdom tooth *pulled* but I needed them all out) because of the drugs. Doctors don't want to give pregnant women *anything*... or nursing women either.

Add that to the increased gag reflex during pregnancy and I'm thinking that all of these folks have been a little too long on the laughing gas.

Seriously.

Clearly the pols got cold f... (Below threshold)

Clearly the pols got cold feet or "wallet-lockup" as it's sometimes known. It's going too far to assume a breath of realism passed through the Bay State...

But laws are multi-part things. While a bill can be passed, if there's no budget authorization allowing money to be spent on it, it's not actually a law yet. The lawsuit is going nowhere and the only "retribution" possible is at the ballot box. Not likely to happen, though.

On the surface, you seem co... (Below threshold)
jp2:

On the surface, you seem correct. However, the only source in the article seems to be the opposing attorney, a Leslie Storm. Interesting side note: Michael Dukakis is a member of the firm bringing forth the lawsuit.

1 biased source. That's poor reporting in a nutshell.

John Burgess: "While a ... (Below threshold)

John Burgess: "While a bill can be passed, if there's no budget authorization allowing money to be spent on it, it's not actually a law yet. The lawsuit is going nowhere and the only "retribution" possible is at the ballot box."

Whaaaaa?? Where'd you get that silly idea? Of course it's a law.

Years ago the legislature passed laws about school improvementsand years later tried to cut back on the funding needed to comply with the law's mandates. Communities that got screwed out of funds sued and won.

I think perhaps the point you're trying to make is that, even if the plaintiffs sue and win a huge money judgment, the money to pay the judgment has to be appropriated by the legislature, and the court can't compel the legislature to do so (separation of powers). The court could mandate, for instance, that the Dept of Human Services follow the law, but if the DHS fails to comply because it doesn't have the funds, the victory is hollow.

I left 4 years ago....good ... (Below threshold)
Vin:

I left 4 years ago....good riddance.

Massachusetts voters changi... (Below threshold)
Steve:

Massachusetts voters changing things at the ballot box! Huh! Yeah right, tell that to Ted Kennedy and watch him choke with laughter.




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