Let the Sunshine In – Sunshine Week 2024

As Sunshine Week Kicks Off, MassFiscal Highlights Top Three Issues That Could Use more Sunlight

Since we were founded 12 years ago, MassFiscal has made advocating for more transparency in our State House a key issue. In fact, we take it so seriously, it’s the second priority listed in our mission statement: “Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance advocates for fiscal responsibility, transparency, and accountability in state government and increased economic opportunity for the people of our Commonwealth."
This week is “Sunshine Week,” a nationally recognized movement that raises awareness of the importance of open government. Massachusetts is routinely ranked as one of the most opaque State Houses in the country, largely due to the fact that legislative leaders and our Governor do not adopt simple good government reforms that are almost universally accepted in every other state. We are the only state in the country that exempts all three branches of government from the public records law.

MassFiscal has been vilified for our advocacy work on this issue. When we called out lawmakers for not making “all” of their votes available to the public, they began to claim some votes are not votes but a “poll” of the members. When we called out that their legislative hearings were not streamed online for the public to view, they claimed they didn’t have the technology to stream hearings online. The excuses go on and on. Some laws have changed because of our work to make things more transparent, and some laws have gotten worse because State House leaders prefer to dig deeper holes than fess up their mistakes.
This Sunshine Week, we want to highlight three areas that could use some sunlight:
This November, voters will be given the chance to vote on a ballot question to reaffirm that the state Auditor has the authority to audit the legislature. According to the incumbent Auditor, the auditor’s office has audited the legislature in the past but Speaker Ron Mariano and Senate President Karen Spilka refuse to be audited by this current state Auditor. What could they be hiding that a ballot question will force them to disclose? No matter how you feel about the candidates this November, its important to come out to vote this November on this ballot question.
Governor Maura Healey is not the first to claim the Governor’s office is exempt from the state’s public records law. What makes this Governor so unique is that as a candidate for office, she publicly promised to bring more transparency to the office. However, as Governor, she did a 180, acting contrary to her position as a candidate. She is the first Governor in recent memory to take things a step further down the path of darkness by suddenly not disclosing her out of state travel. Early in her administration, it was reported that Governor Healey was out of state the equivalent of one day a week, now she refuses to tell the taxpayers when she’s out of town or where she’s going.
While people blame Washington for the migrant crisis, they are not satisfied with how our State House leaders are addressing the problem. Part of the frustration is a lack of disclosure for how much taxpayers are spending on the migrants. Yes, we know the Right to Shelter law benefit costs about $3 million a day ($1 billion annually). We now know the state is being charged approximately $64 a day for meals for migrants only due to good reporting. We know SNAP welfare benefits can cost several hundreds of dollars per month per family. How about everything else? Migrants are being housed in hotels and motels across the state, and anecdotes of their DAILY Amazon deliveries, Uber rides, etc. have been plentiful. No one believes you can take a hotel, fill it with migrants, and not expect additional costs.  What are those costs to the taxpayers? Massachusetts State House leaders don’t want you to know, but MassFiscal will continue to press that these costs become available to the public.
This Sunshine Week once again proves, Massachusetts has a long way to go, and MassFiscal will continue to work to make “transparency” a part of state government. 

Support Our Work Join Our Email List Visit our Scorecard


get updates