Senate Votes to Spend Over $200 Million it Doesn't Have

At MassFiscal, we love the idea of charter schools. Give people real education choices, and schools get better. Standards rise, not just in the charter schools but across the system. Parents love charter schools because they deliver results, but 34,000 children in the Commonwealth are on waiting lists, hoping for a chance at a better education.

But interests more powerful than families and children are at work on Beacon Hill.

Ostensibly in response to pressure from Governor Baker and charter advocates to expand the charter program, the Senate passed a bill yesterday linking any new charter schools to $200 million in general education funding. The bill, which Education Secretary Jim Peyser says effectively places a moratorium on new charters, passed 24-14 without any indication of where all that money will come from.

The measure is fiscally irresponsible and does nothing to help children waiting for better schools.

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr put it best, saying the bill has "more poison pills in it than Dr. Kevorkian's apothecary.

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.

# # #


MassFiscal Highlights Points for Sunshine Week

(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.

 

# # #


MassFiscal Calls on Auditor to Investigate Higher Ed Compensation

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.

# # #


connect

get updates