Suzanne Bump, the new Auditor has it right in deciding to audit the so-called “tax expenditure budget”
The auditor’s office carried out an initial review of 91 of the 203 programs in the tax expenditures budget that have significant business ramifications, collectively valued at $2.2 billion.
The review found that of those 91 incentives:
– Only eight have a sunset clause, or a time set in the future to review its usefulness.
– Only 10 have provisions allowing the state to attempt to recoup money for unmet obligations.
– Just 19 require the recipient to report to some state entity on various aspects of the expenditure.
– Nineteen have public disclosure requirements.
– Only 17 have any special, identifiable oversight procedures.
Bump said she supports several bills that would establish a regular oversight process for tax incentives.
Her office said it plans next to conduct audits of oversight measures from a select sample of tax breaks. Auditors will look at how eligibility for favorable tax treatment is verified and whether it accomplishes its goal of economic development.
Part of our problem is the black box, no sunset clause business giveaways.
Another issue is the micromanagement by Beacon Hill; did you know our state is the only state with a separate line item for each court? Another problem is the reality that neither Open Meeting laws nor Freedom of Informaton-type laws apply to the Massachusetts legislature.
There is neither openness, nor accountability in the legislative budget process in this State.
The latest? The Speaker has announced a closed door, no press “caucus” the very day the budget comes out where “members can air their priorities”.
The members should not tolerate this procedure of closed door discussion only. There are more new legislators – more than 40 – more than will likely be seated in one election again for a long long time. How about some “house cleaning”?
Members will not “air” their priorities in the procedure the Speaker outlined – it looks more like leadership will demand member obeisance behind those closed doors to Room 348.
I remember when there WAS actual budget “debate”. It took longer. It was “messy” – but Democracy IS messy. I sat in the gallery and watched real discussion leading to real changes in the budget back in those days.
Legislators – remember why you sought election in the first place! Remember your hopes and goals.
Please don’t discuss your budget priorities behind closed doors in Room 348 – do it in the open, on the floor of the House! If not now, when? If not you, than who will stand up for democracy in the birth place of democracy?