Sunshine Week is once again upon us!
Living in Massachusetts, we know firsthand how important openness and transparency is to good government. Our state has received an “F” rating for its lack of transparency from the Open State project. This comes on the heels of the legislature’s continued refusal to publish all committee votes and allow the public time to review bills before they vote on them.
Last year we caught up with Freshman State Senator Julian Cyr to ask him to explain why he cast his first vote as an elected senator for a pay raise for himself and others. His response was somewhat lacking.
This year, we’d like to bring your attention to a recent digital education campaign we launched regarding special interest-paid trips by state lawmakers. An expose by WCVB found that dozens of lawmakers had taken special interest-funded “junkets” to exotic locations such as Israel, Taiwan, Turkey, Saint Thomas, and the Azores.
Of particular note was Democratic 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.
We made sure that Senator Pacheco’s constituents knew what he was up to.
Justice Louis Brandeis had it right when he told us that sunlight is the best disinfectant, and your team at MassFiscal will continue to ensure that plenty of sunlight shines on Beacon Hill, this week and beyond.
This week, our latest advocacy campaign began hitting mailboxes across the state.
Following the 2016 election, the very first thing legislators did was vote themselves an average 40% pay increase. Then Senate President Rosenberg saw his pay go up by some 62%, while some lawmakers saw an increase of as much as 130%!
To top it all off, they filed the pay bill as “emergency” legislation so they could begin collecting their raises immediately.
There’s no shortage of critical issues facing our state in recent years, but the House and Senate decided to make this issue their number one priority. We think this was the wrong approach for the legislature to take and if it weren’t for our advocacy, constituents would be left in the dark.
When completed, over 500,000 households across 18 different legislative districts will have received this mailing.
Here is a sample of one mailer from this week:
Thank you for being a supporter of MassFiscal. If it weren’t for your support and grassroots advocacy, the public would have forgotten about this important vote.
This morning, members of the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance team were at the Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF) to testify against changes to existing OCPF regulations.
OCPF has proposed changes to current rules that would give it broad discretion to require donor disclosure. None of the proposed changes would impact MassFiscal and MassFiscal will never disclose the generous support of its members.
One provision would give OCPF the authority to make a unilateral determination — without ever speaking to a donor — that the donor “had reason to know” how their donation would be used by the recipient organization, and to order disclosure of that donor’s name and address as a result. Another provision proposes eliminating the existing right of donors to present evidence and facts to OCPF as to why disclosure should not be required.
MassFiscal believe a revision of this magnitude, which greatly expands OCPF’s purview, exceeds the original intent of OCPF’s authorizing legislation. A change like the one proposed should be made by the Legislature, not through a bureaucratic regulatory change.
Our Spokesman, Paul D. Craney, outlines our case against these changes in an Op-Ed at Commonwealth Magazine which you can read by clicking here. Our attorney, Tad Heuer offered written and oral testimony, which you may download here.