The state’s Republican Party’s attempt to highlight partisan politics during the budget process has backfired and both Democrat State Senator Anthony Petruccelli and Republican State Senator Bruce Tarr are setting the record straight.
Last week the MassGOP released a press release with the headline, “Petruccelli’s Shady, Wasteful Earmark Exposed By Baker Veto”.
The state GOP was referring to Petruccelli’s earmark that will direct funds towards the creation of a job readiness program at East Boston High School. This program, known as the National Youth Development Council, will train students at EBHS for careers in entertainment technology and high technology with the goal of providing students with the skills necessary to qualify them for entry level jobs and internships.
The MassGOP’s Chairman Kirsten Hughes called on Petruccelli to explain the earmark and said, “This shady earmark is just another example of Democrats on Beacon Hill wasting taxpayer dollars with no accountability. It’s not surprising that Governor Baker’s fiscally responsible leadership was needed to expose the sketchy details about this pet project. Senator Petruccelli needs to explain this shady earmark, which he’s been unable to do thus far.”
First, Governor Charlie Baker never vetoed the line item that went to his desk before he trimmed millions from the budget. In fact the line item in the budget was approved by Baker and his administration.
Second, the line item was an example of bi-partisan work not the work of a ‘shady’ rogue democrat looking to overrule the Republican Governor’s vetoes.
Tarr, the Senate’s Minority Leader and friend and colleague of Petruccelli, said he was the one that introduced the director of the National Youth Development Council, Richard Smith, to Petruccelli. Tarr explained that Smith had, what he felt, was a worthwhile program that could benefit students but needed a foothold into Boston. Tarr then introduced Smith to Petruccelli. Petruccelli liked Smith’s ideas and program so much he agreed to sponsor an amendment to launch the program at East Boston High.
“It’s unfortunate there was some misunderstanding about this issue from the state GOP,” said Tarr. “I believed then and I believe now in this program’s potential to connect students to career opportunities.”
Tarr said he is always looking for new and innovative ways to motivate and empower students and help them move forward with particular careers. This program seemed destined to accomplish that and felt Petruccelli’s district could benefit.
“Anthony (Petruccelli) has a specific interest in East Boston and we both have a more general interest in creating opportunity for young people,” said Tarr. “We deferred to him for the amendment. I was an early supporter of it and continue to be a supporter because it is a unique approach for creating more job opportunity and economic independence for our young people.”
Tarr added that the line item received widespread bi-partisan approval that was evident in Gov. Baker’s signing of the earmark–not vetoing it as the MassGOP inaccurately stated.
For his part, Petruccelli said the MassGOP missed an opportunity to highlight how bi-partisan politics is working at the State House.
“Last week’s negative attack by the state’s gop was a sad attempt at “gotcha” politics,” he said. “The proposed pilot program had bi-partisan support in the Senate and was signed by Governor Baker despite the assertions by the MassGOP that is was a product of so-called one party rule. The least they could do is admit their errors.”
Several attempts by the East Boston Times to reach MassGOP spokesman Terry McCormick for a response went unanswered.