Mass Statehouse (copy)

The Massachusetts Statehouse dome.

Think the goings on under the Golden Dome of the Statehouse are far removed from your daily life?

Don’t care to follow the machinations of Beacon Hill policy making since it doesn’t really affect you.

Tune out the reports on the nitty gritty of state lawmaking since only real nerds would take an interest?

Well, think again.

We don’t mean the obvious impact the Legislature’s action or lack thereof has on how tax money is spent -- or how and how much is raised. Or the myriad rules and regulations that can make doing business in the commonwealth a profitable enterprise or a bureaucratic burden. Or even the backroom deals that are so special for those special interests.

What we are talking about is a program that would aid abused women and children in our own backyard -- a program that’s been delayed because of inaction by state lawmakers and no one, including the sponsor of the measure, seems to know why.

At issue is the Senate version of the state supplemental budget, which has $195,000 inserted by state Sen. Paul Feeney for a new women’s shelter needed by the Attleboro-area agency New Hope. The sum would pay for the land portion of the shelter. More money would be needed for the building itself.

Feeney, a first-term Democrat from Foxboro, recently told The Sun Chronicle that the money is not in the House version of the supplemental budget so he did not yet know if it would be included in the final version to be agreed upon by a conference committee. Feeney and other lawmakers told Sun Chronicle politics writer Jim Hand that they did not know the reason for the holdup because conference committees work in private. And the Legislature has exempted itself from the state’s Open Meeting Law.

The conference committee -- consisting of both House and Senate members has not completed its work even though the fiscal year ended June 30.

Legislators evidently are clashing over the best ways to distribute more than $1 billion in surplus funds, but Rep. Shawn Dooley, R-Norfolk, said the only disagreement between the two chambers that he has heard of involved whether to tie business deductions on taxes to the federal tax code.

The supplemental budget is supposed to balance accounts from the previous fiscal year but this session’s version is so late this year that state Comptroller Andrew Maylor has said he may be forced to close the books with some accounts in deficit if the solons can’t come to agreement by this Wednesday.

New Hope serves people in 41 cities and towns throughout South-Central and Southeastern Massachusetts, and addresses domestic and sexual violence at the individual, family, and community level.

Its mission should not be hindered by dithering -- or ego stroking -- on Beacon Hill. Each member of our area’s legislative delegation should make it his or her mission to see that this budget is passed or they should have to explain why to the voters next election day.

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