House Lawmaker Criticizes Handling Of Beacon Hill Layoffs

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Twenty-eight vacant staff positions were eliminated at the State House on Friday, drawing criticism from at least one  lawmaker on Beacon Hill.

Needham state Rep. Lida Harkins said she was not consulted about her staff needs when two of her three aides were laid off Friday. She says she found out just minutes before the staffers were brought to the personnel office and then led out of the building by court officers.

"I didn't get to decide who would stay and who would go, and I was not called in or consulted as to the needs of my district at all," Harkins said. "They were just uncerimoniously let go and escorted from the building immediately," she said.

Other State House aides had their salaries adjusted to reflect their current duties. It's part of the Legislature's plan to to help close the state's budget deficit. Speaker Robert DeLeo says the reductions will save approximately $1.2 million in annual salary costs.

Harkins who supported Rep. John Rogers during DeLeo's bid to become speaker, says she doesn't question the need for layoffs — but that the handling of the dismissals reflects a broader disorganization within the Gouse leadership.

"It's a lack of process that can be seen in everything we've done under this leadership," Harkins said. "We never have a schedule. We don't know when we're going to be in session until the day before, often. There's no rhyme or reason to what we take up."

DeLeo's office did not respond to the criticism that the lay-offs were handled poorly.

This program aired on December 4, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.