• DeLeo outlines agenda, wants answers on DCF and wipes out Patrick's proposed tax hikes


    BOSTON (MyFoxBoston.com) -- Governor Deval Patrick may be the political leader of the state, but the House Speaker is the one with the real power on Beacon Hill.

    Wednesday, Speaker Robert DeLeo, who is in his sixth year on the job, has outlined a big agenda at the state house.

    During his speech in the House chambers, DeLeo said he wants to raise the minimum wage, reform unemployment insurance and allow $300 million in local road funding. He has pledged a balanced budget with no new taxes or fees, effectively wiping out Patrick's hopes of slapping a tax on candy and soda. DeLeo has called for expanding job creation, especially outside the Route 495 area. He also plans to unveil comprehensive domestic violence legislation and gun violence legislation.

    DeLeo did address the ongoing scandal at the Department of Children and Families, in which the agency lost track of a 5-year-old Fitchburg boy.

    "We are angry at the failings of the Department of Children and Families," DeLeo said. "A case like that of Jeremiah Oliver is totally unacceptable. We demand better for our children of the Commonwealth."

    DeLeo says if the agency needs more money, he will address it, but adds how DCF operates is an issue. He says he wants answers, and plans to get them, in part from hearings led by House Post Audit Chairman David Linsky. The oversight committee, along with the Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities, held a hearing to find out what went wrong at DCF, and how it may be fixed.

    "Well, we're mad," said Linsky, a Democrat. "There was a gross failing of government. There was a gross failing of management at the DCF. We want to get to the bottom of what happened and make sure this never happens again."

    State Representative Shaunna O'Connell, a Republican who sits on the Committee on Children and Families, tells us the state "can't just throw money at DCF." She said she agrees the agency probably needs more money, but adds, "it really has to be coupled with tough reforms and oversight because there is no oversight. There is no leadership in this administration or in DCF and Olga Roche should have been fired."

    The Child Welfare League of America, an independent agency, is looking into the scandal and is expected to release its report in the spring.


    Next Up: