A leading Senate critic of the Suffolk County-only Bunker Hill and Evacuation Day holidays, which the Senate has voted to eliminate, says he's hoping that the House will agree they should be crossed off the calendar.
"It's about time we got rid of them," said Senator Michael Knapik, a Westfield Republican. "We can't justify them anymore."
The holidays would be eliminated by an amendment, approved on a 25-12 vote, that was included in the $28.4 billion Senate budget that passed in the wee hours of this morning.
The two paid holidays apply to city and state government workers in Suffolk County. An estimated 35,000 workers enjoy the days off, according to a rough tally compiled with the help of the Boston Municipal Research Bureau and the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation.
Critics say they are a waste of money during tight budget times. "I think it's an offense to the hardworking taxpayers of Massachusetts," said Knapik. "If we're serious about reform, this is about the easiest reform we can accomplish to keep faith with the public."
The Senate and House, which had already passed its version of the budget, will now work out a compromise to be sent to the governor's desk. It's not clear if the House will approve of the Senate proposal to eliminate the holidays.
Backers of the holidays have said they celebrate important historic events. Senator Jack Hart, a South Boston Democrat who has defended the holidays, didn't immediately return a message seeking comment this afterrnoon.
Evacuation Day is on March 17, while Bunker Hill Day is on June 17.
The Senate budget was up about 1.7 percent from estimated spending for the previous fiscal year.
Senate Ways and Means Chairman Steven Panagiotakos said in a statement early this morning that it was "a conservative, bare bones, responsible budget that reflects the very difficult times we are facing."
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