MassFiscal Calls Out Legislature on Junket Heavy Schedule

BOSTON – In response to an astounding new report released by WCVB on state lawmaker travel, Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance took legislators to task for the excessive number of special interest-paid trips to exotic locations they have taken over the last several years. 

The report noted that dozens of lawmakers have taken special interest-funded “junkets” to exotic locations such as Israel, Taiwan, Turkey, Saint Thomas, and the Azores. “Those are just a few of the locations,” noted Paul D. Craney, MassFiscal spokesman. “From the reports you would think these lawmakers worked for the State Department and not their local legislature.”

“Some of these lawmakers are taking these junket trips more than once a month to vacation hotspots, and it’s all being paid for by lobbyists and special interests,” said Craney. “In my mind, it brings up major issues relating to conflicts of interest and influence peddling.”

Of particular note was State Senator Marc Pacheco of Taunton. Pacheco, who recently voted himself a 121% raise that hiked his yearly salary to over $154,000 a year, has taken 28 trips since 2014. “Pacheco is by far one of the most frequent flyers,” commented Craney. “The State Senate has only met formally 31 times since it this session convened in January of 2017. In that same time period, State Senator Pacheco has taken 10 special interest-funded trips to locations ranging from Austria to Quebec. Clearly, it’s a great year to be State Senator Marc Pacheco.”

“In the age of email, VOIP calling, and online video conferencing these types of trips should be less necessary, not more,” finished Craney.

Original Report Available Here: http://www.wcvb.com/article/state-legislators-take-hundreds-of-free-trips-to-vacation-hot-spots/16020928

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Governor Baker's State of the Commonwealth

Last night Governor Baker outlined his many accomplishments, as well as priorities for the fourth and final year of his first term in office. He touched on finding solutions for the opioid crisis as well as investing in public housing and our aging population. He cited nationally recognized achievements such as being ranked #1 in innovation for the past two years according to Bloomberg, as well as getting an A- for small business friendliness from Thumbtack up from a D+ just a few years earlier. While these are noteworthy accomplishments, we must be diligent in addressing the areas where we struggle.

According to the latest Tax Foundation study, Massachusetts currently holds the highest debt per capita in the country. This debt load is often raised as a concern by credit rating agencies. Despite this, the legislature continues to pass borrowing bills, adding to an already massive problem.  

Truth in Accounting’s annual Financial State of the States study refers to Massachusetts as a “sinkhole” state. Each year, the Commonwealth’s outstanding bills increase due to the rise in pension liability and bonds payable, while our assets continue to decrease, resulting in an “F” grading for 2017.  A study by the Mercatus Center ranks Massachusetts as 48th in the nation for fiscal health. 

As we have mentioned in the past, last year MassHealth made up over 40% of the state’s budget. Although a reform bill is promised in the legislature, we are not sure if it will do enough to address this problem. Instead of trying to stem the growth of this financial liability, last year Beacon Hill passed a tax on employers to help pay for the massive increase in MassHealth. Spending on the program has more than doubled over the last 10 years. If our state is to ever get a handle on its out of control spending, we need to stop kicking this can down the road and pass serious, comprehensive reform on this out of control program.

This November we face multiple ballot questions that could potentially hurt the very people and employers that create and sustain jobs here in MA.  We have the possibility of passing a $15 an hour minimum wage, as well as enacting a paid family leave proposal. Both will have major, negative impacts on small businesses across the state. Further, Proposition 80 has the potential to scare away our state’s highest income earners. Under that proposal, the 900 top earners would pay 53% of the new tax revenues.

While the issues presented above are extremely complex and will certainly force our lawmakers to make difficult decisions, the long-term health of our Commonwealth is at stake with each and every one of them. We cannot simply forget about these issues and push them down the road for future generations to deal with. 

We look forward to the release of the House and Senate budgets that begin to tackle our state’s long-term, structural budgetary problems.

 


Press Release: MassFiscal Adds Two New Directors

For Immediate Release

Press Release

Contact: Paul Craney
paul@massfiscal.org
January 18, 2018
 
MassFiscal Announces Two New Directors
BOSTON – Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, the Commonwealth’s leading non-profit advocating for fiscal responsibility, transparency, and accountability in state government, is proud to announce two new additions to their staff heading into 2018.

Anne J. Bresnahan, an entrepreneur and well-known political and nonprofit fundraiser with broad national and international experience, began serving as Finance Director in December of 2017. An alumna of Peter Torkildsen’s (R-MA6) successful campaign for US Congress, she also managed Bob Maginn’s campaign for MA State Treasurer and served on the Mitt Romney for U.S. President Massachusetts Finance Committee.

Her international experience includes almost a decade living and working in Africa, where she served as Country Director in South Africa and Nigeria for the International Republican Institute and conducted political campaign skills and executive-legislative relations training. In South Africa, she instituted the country’s first ever political debate in KwaZulu-Natal and was instrumental in strengthening communications between elected officials and administrators in the post-apartheid era.

In her role as Finance Director, Bresnahan will oversee the non-profit's fundraising operations and assist with strategic partnership and outreach. A graduate of Northeastern University, Bresnahan is a resident of Danvers and enjoys spending time with her family, playing golf and tennis.
Paul D. Craney, Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance Spokesperson, stated, "Anne's extensive fundraising career, both in Massachusetts and abroad will be a tremendous asset as we continue to grow our robust fundraising operations."

Additionally, Paul F. Gangi joined the staff as Program Director beginning on January 16, 2018. A seven-year veteran of the State House, Gangi oversaw the operations of the Office of State Representative Jim Lyons (R-Andover) from 2011 until 2018. While at the State House, Paul worked extensively on policy issues related to government reform, reducing state spending, and the state budget.

Gangi has been involved with over a dozen state and local campaigns across New England, and has extensive experience working to elect fiscally responsible candidates at all levels of government. He has held senior leadership positions in Representative Lyons’s campaigns since 2010, when Lyons defeated Barbara L’Italien, the then Vice-Chair of Ways & Means Committee and the highest-ranking legislator to lose office that cycle.

In his role as Program Director, Gangi will work closely with current staff, as well as the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance Board of Directors, to further the organization's mission of advocating for fiscal responsibility, transparency, and accountability in state government and increasing economic opportunity for the people of our Commonwealth.
"Paul brings a wealth of institutional knowledge to the table," commented Craney. " His unique political and legislative background will provide an invaluable perspective and make us a more effective organization."
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