The Speaker Speaks Out

House speaker Robert DeLeo

House Speaker Robert DeLeo says that he is right now planning for the legislative year to come and what new matters should be brought before the House for action.

“We have finished a productive legislative session, perhaps the most productive House session in decades,” said the speaker during a recent interview with the Transcript.

He said he was proud to point to the many achievements of the House, which he leads.

“We have passed legislation jump starting dramatic change in a number of areas. City and town paid for health insurance. Ethics reform. Expanded gambling. Pension reform. This has been an unbelievably productive session,” said the speaker.

DeLeo pointed to millions in savings now being achieved by nearly all the cities and towns in Massachusetts since legislation was passed changing how cities and towns buy their municipal health insurance.

“Many cities and towns were literally going broke making payments for health plans they can no longer afford,” he said.

“This has come to an end,” he added.

The speaker said he took great pride in the Ethics reform bill that was passed – perhaps the strongest Ethics reform bill in the state’s modern history.

“Nearly everyone serving in government and doing business with government is now held to a much higher ethical standard than ever before. It was long overdue,” he said.

The Pension reform bill was another major piece of legislation going to the heart of curing another financial disaster that was in the making.

Pension responsibilities for the cities and towns have grown to a degree never imagined. The new pension legislation also takes abuse out of the pension system.

“This was another piece of legislation that was a long time coming and absolutely necessary. The cities and towns cannot carry on paying pensions they clearly cannot afford. At least the legislation restores some sensibility to the pension system for government employees,” he said.

The speaker was pleased that expanded gambling legislation was finally passed. He said he was looking forward to the casino selection process finishing up with thousands of new jobs and millions in new construction and a new and potentially powerful new revenue stream for state government – which will distribute millions more to the cities and towns when things get going.

“The expanded gambling bill and the coming of three casinos and a slot parlor are just one more piece of Massachusetts economy. They are not the be all and end all of anything – but the new jobs and revenues will a big difference in the future – and the future is what our lives are all about,” the speaker said.

DeLeo also said he expects to be around for another five years. In recent days, one of his chief challengers, Rep. Charlie Murphy, resigned his powerful chairmanship of the House Ways and Means Committee before DeLeo had the chance to strip him of the position.

Murphy had been posturing to become the next speaker.

Murphy learned a valuable lesson.

Speaker DeLeo demands loyalty and team play.

That’s why he’s the speaker.

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