June 13, 2005, 5:10 P.M.
Higher Taxes, Pork Free: Thanks in part to Sen. Robert Boyce of Alton, Laconia will receive $5,340,000 from the State in education funding. That payment results from the Senateís passage of a funding plan designed by Sen. Ted Gatsas of Manchester that was proposed and supported by the Republican leadership in the Senate. The so-called Gatsas plan was proposed as an alternative to a plan put forward by the Governor and supported by a bipartisan group. The Governor's plan would have sent $6,812,193 to Laconia, or approximately $1.5 million more than the Gatsas plan.
Sen. Boyce, our representative in the Senate, supported the partisan, Republican-sponsored plan despite the obvious disadvantages to the largest community in his district, the City of Laconia. It is not surprising, on several levels, that Boyce was not really even familiar with the contents of the plan when he voted. Boyce told Sylvia Larsen, a veteran senator and proponent of the Governorís plan, that he had not really read the bill before he voted on it. He voted against the Governorís plan because he didnít like "pork," even if the ham sandwich would feed someone in his district.
Members of the House Education Committee have not read the plan either. House Education Committee Chairman, Steve LíHeureux indicated in an interview with the Concord Monitor that he and his committee were scrambling to decipher the Gatsas plan in order to offer advice to the House on how to vote. If the House does not support the plan, a committee of conference, comprised of both House and Senate members, would work on a compromise bill. This development is seen as a blow to the Governor, whose plan came under fire when several towns in the southern part of the state threatened to sue if the Governorís plan passed. Gatsasí plan fell out of favor last year when the Peter Heed, the Attorney General, called its constitutionality into question.
Robert Boyce voted for the Gatsas plan over the Governorís plan despite the fact that the Governorís plan would repeal the statewide property tax. The Gatsas plan reduces the tax, but keeps it in place. So not only did Boyce vote to pass a plan that the Attorney General had said may not survive a court challenge, he also voted to continue a tax that no one likes and for a funding formula that provides $1.5 million less to the largest community in his district, because he dislikes pork.
Apparently, Boyce likes politics more than pork because his vote here was clearly against the Governor and not in favor of anything. When questioned by Sylvia Larsen, Boyce could not even say that he knew the difference between the plans, in fact, he had not even read information provided to him. He only said he disliked pork. Does he actually think that his actions did anything about political pork? He couldnít possibly, because the Gatsas plan is loaded with it. It simply distributes it differently (or perhaps takes less away from some communities that already have it.) What Boyce did was to screw Laconia, and the rest of his constituents, just like in June 2003 when Boyce didnít even show up for a vote on the inclusion of the Laconia Court House revitalization project in the Stateís capital budget. Boyceís agenda apparently has nothing to do with supporting his constituents.
Through all of this, Boyce offers no explanation or justification. His inflammatory comments regarding medical planning, his support of a bill to reduce enhanced penalties for hate crimes, and his lack of regard for his constituents in participation in the Senate make him a prime example of why the straight ticket vote ought to be outlawed. Robert Boyce has his own agenda and it has nothing to do with constituent service. Boyceís distaste for pork doesnít seem to prevent him from serving it up to others.
I am waiting for elected representatives to be responsive to their constituents, to show that they are actively doing the peopleís business. I havenít seen it yet, and I also havenít heard many people talking about holding elected officials like Robert Boyce accountable. I actually havenít really heard much that people care.
Fall brings another election cycle, but now is the time to be talking about accountability. A friend recently lamented that with an extra $1.5 million, Laconia could have bought the McIntyre property, restored some of the sports programs cut from the budget, and still reduced the tax rate. $1.5 million equals about $0.91 on the tax rate and Bob Boyce, your Republican Senator, just told you that you donít need it, Nashua does. What are you going to do about it, thatís what I want to know.