(BOSTON)—With National Sunshine Week (March 13-19) upon us, the folks at MassFiscal are offering a quartet of tips for legislators bent on ratching up their failing grade on transparency. Sunshine Week is a national initiative to promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information.
Do your homework.
Be prepared to make decisions. Sure, sending a bill off to a study committee rings of cautious responsibility, but “study committee” is another way of saying “legislative cemetery.” A vote moving a bill for further study should require a 2/3 vote.
Show your work.
Technology has made broadcasting public meetings easy and inexpensive. Legislation effects so many people outside the walls of the Statehouse. Open up those meetings so everyone can better understand the problems and solutions you’re working on.
Play by the rules.
The public records reform bill passed by the House in the fall is important, and it’s important the Legislature lives by the rules it makes. No exemption.
Stand up for what you believe in.
If the committees in the U.S. Congress make their votes public and readily available, so should our own state’s joint committees. Not all votes in the legislature are available to the public, specifically votes in the joint committee. Lawmakers should have the will to stand by all their votes and share them with the public.
“These simple tactics for achieving quality work aren’t revolutionary. Sunshine Week, a nationally celebrated time for focusing on transparency in government and lawmaking, is a great time to revisit them,” said Paul Craney, executive director of MassFiscal. “I urge the legislature to focus on these four principles, and help bring more sunshine into the dark corners of state government.”
Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance advocates for fiscal responsibility, transparency, and accountability in state government and increased economic opportunity for the people of our Commonwealth.
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Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, today called on State Auditor Suzanne Bump to investigate the extraordinary sick and vacation time payout and lavish post-retirement consulting agreement of former Bridgewater State University president Dana Mohler-Faria. A copy of our letter may be found here.
“The deal Mohler-Faria struck insults the hardworking taxpayers of Massachusetts,” Craney said. “We owe a huge thanks to the Boston Business Journal for bringing the facts out into the light of day, and Suzanne Bump owes the people an explanation.”
According to published reports, Mohler-Faria accrued an extraordinary amount of vacation and sick time during a period when he was the final authority on recording his use of those benefits. In addition, records show Mohler-Faria travelled to a number of exotic locations on the public dollar and used a university credit card to engage in activities like snorkeling, guided tours, and dinners in excess of $500.
Mohler-Faria, who retired in June of 2015, acquired more than $1 million in accrued vacation and sick time in the years leading up to his retirement. He was paid a lump sum of $269,984, in addition to a $183,421 annual state pension as well as the $8,333-per-month fee he receives as an advisor to the school.
Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance advocates for fiscal responsibility, transparency, and accountability in state government and increased economic opportunity for the people of our Commonwealth. As a non-partisan, IRS recognized 501(c)(4) non-profit organization, our primary focus is to promote social welfare.
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The MA House of Representatives is considering further regulation of ride-for-hire companies like Uber and Lyft. Plans include banning ride-for-hire companies from picking up people at both the Logan Airport and a wide swath of the Seaport district in Boston.
While some regulation of the Uber and Lyft services is perhaps inevitable as government legislatures try to insure the safety of the community, we OPPOSE the scope of the bill before the House. The legislation includes a plethora of new regulations, from additional inspections to zone restrictions.
To highlight a few that we found most alarming was the creation of a “Ride for Hire Division” of the Department of Public Utilities, strict penalties to restrict ride-for-hire services at Logan Airport and the Boston Convention Center, and de-incentivizing restrictions for ride-for-hire services during weather emergencies.
Businesses like Uber and Lyft provide an important service. It gives people in need of a ride choices, which is the source of competition for suppliers. If Taxi’s are feeling pressured by the new competition it is a call to them to find ways to incentivize their driving services. At MassFiscal we believe the market can provide the solution much better than burdensome government bureaucracy
This bill goes beyond protecting health and safety, adding stifling regulations aimed at crushing innovation and competition necessary in a growing market for transportation services. For these reasons MassFiscal cannot support House Bill 4049, which seeks to undermine ride-for-hire companies like Uber and Lyft.
To let your legislator know you DO NOT SUPPORT H4049, especially the provisions that limit car services' area of operation and creating a new state agency for regulation. Take action by pressing here.