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NEWS SERVICE STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, MARCH 7, 2012…. The sheriffs of four Massachusetts counties, all Republicans, will soon see millions of dollars flowing into their coffers after the House on Wednesday joined the Senate in overriding six vetoes from Gov. Deval Patrick. Republicans immediately celebrated the overrides as a victory over what they considered a “politically motivated” attack on the sheriffs’ budgets, but Patrick parried by questioning the GOP’s own commitment to fiscal discipline. A $127 million fiscal 2012 spending bill signed by Patrick last month arrived on his desk with approximately $27.8 million for county sheriffs to cover the costs of overtime pay and collective bargaining agreements. Patrick vetoed $3 million of those funds, calling the allocations "unaffordable" and in excess of his own recommendations for the sheriffs, which added up to about $20 million. The governor, however, let stand $4.8 million in additional appropriations tacked on by the Legislature to Patrick’s initial spending bill for other sheriffs’ offices, mostly Democrats. He also left untouched boosted funding for Essex County Sheriff Frank Cousins, a Republican. Democratic leadership in both the House and Senate saw fit over the past two weeks to bring the governor’s vetoes to the floor for override votes, rescuing the additional funding for the four Republican sheriffs with near unanimous votes in both branches. House Minority Leader Brad Jones called the governor’s veto a “politically motivated” way to send a message to those sheriffs that he was upset by their criticism of his opposition to Secure Communities – a federal program to identify and deport certain illegal immigrants. “It is interesting that you hear this lofty rhetoric and happy talk from Gov. Patrick, but he is quite capable of playing politics like an old school Chicago pol,” Jones told the News Service. Jones said it’s possible Cousins was not as vocal as the other Republican sheriffs on Secure Communities, and therefore was spared the governor’s veto pen. “Fortunately, the Speaker and Senate President thought better of playing politics with public safety, to their credit,” Jones said. The Patrick administration responded to Jones by touting its stewardship of the budget during difficult economic conditions, mixing in a personal jab at Jones and former governor and front-running Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in the process. “Thanks to Governor Patrick’s sound fiscal management and responsible budgeting, the Commonwealth recently earned its strongest bond ratings in history. Unfortunately Leader Jones failed to help Governor Romney achieve the same when he was in the corner office. Perhaps Leader Jones needs to be reminded that fiscal discipline matters,” said Alec Loftus, the governor’s deputy press secretary. On Wednesday afternoon, all but one of the veto override votes in the House was unanimous. Rep.
Tricia Farley-Bouvier (D-Pittsfield) and Rep. Denise Andrews (D-Orange) both voted to sustain Patrick's veto of $952,095 million to the office of Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson. The additional money is needed to cover overtime payments due to understaffing, Rep. Stephen Kulik, vice chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said during light debate. The overrides also restored funds for Barnstable County Sheriff James Cummings, Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis and Plymouth County Sheriff Joseph McDonald Jr. After the vote, Billerica Rep. Marc Lombardo, a Republican, tweeted, "House agrees with Senate to override Gov's political veto of R sheriffs budgets. Public safety triumphs politics Mr. Gov." -END03/07/2012 Serving the working press since 1910 http://www.statehousenews.com