To the editor:
As a concerned citizen of Massachusetts, we are appalled by the amount of power held by the speaker of the State House over the legislative process. It is unacceptable that one person has the ability to control which bills are allowed to pass, who chairs committees and even where legislators’ offices are located. This level of control creates a situation where the voice of the people is stifled and the principles of democracy are undermined.
The fact that the speaker controls any additional salaries over and above the base rate of $75,000 that each rep is paid is particularly concerning. This addition can range between $17,042 and $73,851. This creates a situation where legislators are beholden to the speaker for their enhanced livelihoods, which can prevent them from speaking out against the speaker’s ideas or decisions or advocating for issues that may not be in the speaker’s favor. This is not only unethical but also a direct threat to the democratic process.
Furthermore, the speaker’s control over committee assignments, resources and even parking spots creates a situation in which certain legislators are favored over others. This undermines the principles of democracy and fair representation.
Therefore, we applaud State Auditor Diana DiZoglio’s bravery in announcing her intent to conduct the first audit of the state legislature in 100 years.
Cathy Marie Michael