Charlie Baker’s aides lied to me

For a few weeks, I’ve been trying to figure out which individual public services were effected by Charlie Baker’s unilateral $118M cuts to the state budget. Constituent aides in the Governor’s office have told me repeatedly and explicitly that the details of what Charlie Baker cut from the budget are not available for public circulation.

More recently, however, I used a public records request to get the complete list. (Check them out for yourself!) Unfortunately, there are still $64M worth of cuts missing from that list that I need to investigate. Worse, still, that means that Charlie Baker’s aides lied to me: the list is, indeed, available for public circulation. Last Wednesday, I called to ask why multiple people in the Governor’s office told me that I could not get the details of Charlie Baker’s budget cuts.

When I called, I spoke with John Tapley, constituent affairs director. You might remember John from when I called to ask about Charlie Baker’s position on Jeff Sessions. (Which, by the way, I still don’t know.) You might also remember that John Tapley would not wish me a happy Rosa Parks Day.

My conversion with John this time went something like this:

Hi! How are you? And happy new year! Who am I speaking with?

Hi, John. I called late last year to request a list of the 9C budget cuts that Governor Baker made by earmark. I was able to obtain a copy of it by a public records request. I was told by people in this office that it was not available for public circulation, can you tell me why I was told that?

John Tapley, who until this point sounded quite delighted to have had someone wish him a happy new year, turned sour. The pace of his voice hastened and its tone bristled.

“I don’t know who would’ve told you that,” he blurted.

“Nick did,” I interjected. Nick called me back on December 30 to tell me that the official position in the Governor’s office was that the public could not have access to the details of the cuts in public funds to public services. I forgot in the moment that John had told me the same thing when I spoked with him a day earlier, on December 29.

“Well, I don’t know why Nick would’ve told you that,” John answer. “Anyway, you have what you were looking for so you should consider the request complete.” He tried to scuttle me off the phone without an answer.

I squeezed in another word before he could hang up, “But I have another request!”

Is Governor Baker dedicated to transparency in state government?

“Yes, of course,” John replied. His voice was calmer again.

To show that Charlie Baker is dedicated to government transparency, will the Governor post the complete list of 9C budget cuts by earmark on his website with the other FY17 budget savings documents? The list of earmarks makes it much easier for the public to understand which services have been effected by his cuts.

John Tapley said that he’d pass on the concern. I want a yes/no answer to my request, so I continued.

And if the Governor refuses to post the list by earmarks on his website, I’d like to know why not.

At this point John was upset again. His pace quickened, and his answers got shorter and shorter.

“I will pass on the request,” he said.
“To whom?” I asked.
“We do not give out the identity of government employees,” he answered.
“Well, then can you give me the title of the person who will make this decision, please?” I asked.
John answered, “The director of legislative affairs.”
“Ah, Ryan Coleman,” I interjected.
John walked back his response, “Well, he might not be involved in the decision.”

“Can you call me back with the decision once someone in legislative affairs makes it?” I asked.

John Tapley refused to take my contact information and he refused call me back. Every other time I have spoken with someone in constituent affairs, the aide asked me for my contact information. I never had to offer it. Tapley broke the mold.

“No, you’ll just have to call back,” he huffed.

He hung up with me without saying good bye.

Call to ask Charlie Baker to stop hiding the details of his budget cuts from the People of Massachusetts

Are you confused why the Governor won’t make it easier for people to understand how he’s using your money? Call Charlie Baker’s office at (617) 725-4005 and ask him to post the details!

Here’s a script you can use:

Hi, my name is Joshua Reyes and I live in Cambridge, MA. Who am I speaking with?

Hi, John! How are you today?

Is the Charlie Baker dedicated to transparency in his administration? Having a list of budget cuts by earmark would make it easier for me and everyone else in Massachusetts to understand which individual public services were effected by the Governor’s December 9C budget cuts.

Will Charlie Baker post a list of 9C budget cuts by earmark with on the web with the other fiscal year 2017 budget savings documents?

John, will you call me back with his decision? Thank you very much! And have a great day!

Let me know who you speak with and what they say!

Give back what Charlie Baker took away!

This post’s service that Charlie Baker defunded is Aid to Incarcerated Mothers (AIM), a group that empowers mothers to make good choices.

AIM works with women, their children and the institutions that affect them, both inside and outside the prison system. Our goal is to keep families whole, healthy and self-sufficient by providing individual therapy, counseling, psychological assessments, information, referral services, assistance with finding housing, free legal advocacy and training.

Charlie Baker cut $200,000 from Aid to Incarcerated Mothers in December. Learn more about how AIM keeps families in Massachusetts whole and consider volunteering or donating to AIM today!

You can get the details of Charlie Baker’s budget cuts by public record request

It worked!

To ring in the new year, I requested the details of Charlie Baker’s $118M in cuts to the state budget because his office told me repeatedly that the details of Charlie Baker’s budget cuts are not available for public circulation. And. It. Worked.

Unfortunately, the document they sent me was byte-for-byte identical to the list of cuts I found on Senator Eldridge’s website late last month. That list is incomplete is still incomplete. Non-earmark cuts total $64M. And I still do don’t know the details whatever Charlie Baker slashed from the state in those missing $64M of cuts.

Here’s the same document we already had: Charlie Baker’s 9C secret listing of budget cuts by line item and earmark.

Service from the Office of Administration and Finance was swift. I have to say, I’m impressed. The public records officer wrote back within one business day.

Because I had finally found someone who wasn’t trying to make it hard for me to figure out what was going on, I wrote to her to ask why this document wasn’t already posted publicly with the other information about the FY17 cuts?

(I accidentally got the name of the public access officer’s name. Her last name is Kim, not Tori. Deputy Counsel Kim, I’m very sorry.)

Sent: Tuesday, January 03, 2017 at 10:07 PM
Dear Deputy General Counsel Tori,

Happy new year! And thank you very much for your prompt response.

Can you tell me why the document titled “December 6 9C earmark list” is not available on or any other publicly accessible page on your website?

Thanks again very much!

She responded first thing the next morning. Again, I was really impressed and really happy to receive a prompt, direct response from someone in the Governor’s office. While just receiving an email at all was encouraging, her answer was a bit disappointing.

Sent: Wednesday, January 04, 2017 at 9:25 AM
Dear Josh,

The materials posted online at are those communicated to the Legislature under the law governing 9C action. The earmark list was an additional, separate document that we provided in response to your public records request.

I hope that helps.

Best regards,


So, the Governor does the absolute bare minimum required by law when it comes to posting information that effects millions of people across the entire Commonwealth. That’s not the sort of leadership I want from my governor. I’d like the Governor to make it as easy as possible for the people of Massachusetts to know how his cuts to public services will effect them. So I thought I’d help him.

Within minutes of reading Deputy Counsel Kim’s response—hoping that she was still at her computer— I scrambled to ask her to post the list of cuts by earmarks for state services on the Governor’s website:

Sent: Wednesday, January 04, 2017 at 9:27 AM
Dear Tori,

Thanks again for the swift response.

The earmark list makes it much easier to see which individual programs will be effected locally by the Governor’s cuts. To show that the Governor and his administration are dedicated to transparency in government, will ANF post the December 6 earmark list with the other FY17 budget savings documents?

Thanks again very much,

Can you guess what happened next? Silence. Not a yes, not a no. Nothing.

Call the Governor and ask for government transparency

Please call the governor’s office (617) 725-4005 and ask Charlie Baker to post the 9C budget cuts by earmark online. Here’s a script you can use:

Hi, my name is Joshua Reyes and I live in Cambridge, MA. Who, may I ask, am I speaking with? Hi, John! How are you today?

I was wondering whether Charlie Baker supports a transparent state government?

I have read Governor Charlie Baker’s December 9C budget cuts listed by earmark. This list makes it much easier for individuals to understand which specific public services will be effected by his recent budget cuts. To show that the Governor is dedicated to a free, open, and transparent government, will he post the 9C budget cuts by earmark with the other documents on the FY17 Budget Savings webpage for the public to read?

I’d like a response. If the answer is no, I’d like to know why the governor refuses to post a document that will make it easier for people to understand how his decisions will effect them.

Thank you and have a nice day!

Please let me know who you speak with and what they say!

You can help a service Charlie Baker defunded!

You can help the individual services, too! Charlie Baker defunded the Samaritans, Inc., a suicide prevention and support service. The good folks at Samaritans have fielded over 2.5 million calls. Consider giving them some of what Charlie Baker took away!

Request the full budget cuts under new 2017 law!

Happy new year!

A new law to make public records easier to get went into effect today!

Starting January 1, 2017, new public records access officers will start working to provide you with public records quickly and easily. Since Charlie Baker’s office has been trying to keep the details of governor’s $118M cuts to the state budget a secret, I decided to ring in the new year by testing out the new law.

To request a document, you need to go to the appropriate agency—in this case it’s the Office of Administration and Finance—find the record access officer, and submit a letter. The law doesn’t specify how to write the letter, so I used a template from the State Secretary’s website.

It’s quick and easy to make the request yourself! Here’s what to do:

  1. Fill out this request form with your name and contact information.
  2. In the field Summary of the Request, answer:

    A complete list of FY17 9C budget cuts by line item and earmark

  3. Open up Notepad (or Word or your favorite text editor) and copy and paste this letter into a new document. Replace parts in red with your personal information.
    [Today’s date]

    Tori Kim
    Executive Office for Administration & Finance
    Attn: Records Access Officer
    State House, Room 373
    Boston, MA 02133

    Re: Massachusetts Public Records Request

    Dear Ms. Kim:

    This is a request under the Massachusetts Public Records Law (M.G.L. Chapter 66, Section 10). I am requesting that I be provided a copy of the following records:

    A complete listing of the FY17 9C budget cuts by line item and earmark.

    The document entitled FY17 9C Line Item Listing posted under the FY17 Budget Savings Information in the Budget, Taxes, Procurement & Regulations section of the Administration and Finance website does not include a break-down of each cut by earmark. I am requesting a finer-grain document. Multiple constituent aides in the Governor’s office have confirmed by phone that such a document exists.

    I recognize that you may charge reasonable costs for copies, as well as for personnel time needed to comply with this request. If you expect costs to exceed $10.00, please provide a detailed fee estimate.

    The Public Records Law requires you to provide me with a written response within 10 business days. If you cannot comply with my request, you are statutorily required to provide an explanation in writing.


    [Your Name]
    [Your Mailing Address]
    [Your Telephone Number]
    [Your Email Address]

  4. Upload the letter you just made in the section that says Upload full PRR document.
  5. Click Make Request.
  6. Call the Office of Administration and Finance at (617) 727-2040 to confirm they received your request.

    Here’s a quick script:

    Happy new year! My name is Joshua Reyes and I live in Cambridge, MA. I’m calling to check on the status of my public record request.

    Can you tell me the status of my request for a complete listing of financial year 2017 9C budget cuts by line item and earmark?

    Thank you and have a good day!

It is possible that Charlie Baker’s office will deny the public record request. If they continue to hide the details of Charlie Baker’s massive $118M cuts to the state budget, they will be required under law to explain why they will not give you the information. And then we can appeal! (Here’s a guide to the public records law from start to finish.)

Let me know how it goes! I’ll do the same.

Charlie Baker’s official and secret budget cuts are off by $64M

Early last December, Charlie Baker pushed through $118M dollars in cuts in services across the entire state on his own, side-stepping the state legislature and the people of Massachusetts. The governor’s office grouped the budget cuts into large, vague categories that make it impossible to know which services in your town were actually cut. For example, Charlie Baker took away $6.5 million from the state police—but what exactly will go? I wanted to know.

So I called the governor’s office and asked for the details of his budget cuts. His aides have repeatedly told me that Charlie Baker does not want the public to know the details of his budget cuts. According to the governor’s office, the specifics of Charlie Baker’s budget cuts are not available for public circulation. Charlie Baker is hiding information about public money to pay for public services from the people of Massachusetts.

I have asked Charlie Baker’s office why the public cannot know the details of his budget cuts. In the meantime, I found a list of the cuts split into earmarks for individual services. Charlie Baker is cutting services to mothers in prison, hungry children, people seeking job training, fisherman, gay people, the elderly, people struggling with drug addiction, nature-lovers, and anyone who has ever been sick. I compared the numbers between the official cuts from Baker’s office and the secret earmark list that he is hiding from the public. Even at fifteen pages, this secret list of budget cuts is incomplete.

Please call Charlie Baker’s office (617) 725-4005 and ask for the details of the budget cuts yourself! Here’s a script you can use:

Happy New Year! My name is Joshua Reyes and I live in Cambridge, MA. I’m curious about cuts to the state budget.

The official line item account of Charlie Baker’s 9C budget cuts make it impossible to tell which individual services have been cut. I’d like to have a copy of Charlie Baker’s 9C budget cuts to the financial year 2017 budget listed by individual earmark to see which programs in my city were cut.

How can I get a copy of it? Thank you and have a good day!

If they tell you that the earmarks are not available to the public, ask them, “Why are the details of slashes to public services in the public budget a secret from the public?”

For your convenience, I’ve gathered all the documents I have so far in one place. Have a look for yourself!

For some reason everyone keeps reporting that the budget cuts are $98M. The official report clearly shows Charlie Baker slashed the budget by $118.5M. (The press missed more than twenty million dollars!) Even with the secret list of each of the earmarks I still cannot account for $64M in budget cuts!

So you can see what is missing, here is a comparison of the official and secret lists of budget cuts:

Account Account Name Official Reduction Secret Earmark Totals Discrepancy between Official and Secret
1100-1100 Office of the Secretary of Administration and Finance(1CS) $46,433 $46,433
1100-1700 Administration and Finance IT Costs(1CS) $153,366 $153,366
1102-3199 Office of Facilities Management(1CS) $129,817 $129,817
1102-3205 State Office Building Rents Retained Revenue(1RN) $200,000 $200,000
1102-3309 Bureau of the State House(1CS) $38,919 $38,919
1108-5100 Group Insurance Commission (1CS) $162,719 $162,719
1201-0100 Department of Revenue (1CS) $952,870 $952,870
1201-0122 Low Income Tax Clinics(1CS) $100,000 $100,000
1231-1000 For the Rate Relief Component of the (1CS) $600,000 $600,000
1232-0100 Underground Storage Tank Reimbursements(1CS) $3,000,000 $3,000,000
1232-0200 Underground Storage Tank Administrative Review Board (1CS) $18,984 $18,984
1310-1000 Appellate Tax Board(1CS) $34,053 $34,053
1599-0026 Municipal Regionalization and Efficiencies Incentive Reserve (1CS) $5,200,000 $5,200,000
1599-2003 Uniform Law Commission(1CN) $70,000 $70,000
1599-2014 Victim Reserve(1CN) $250,000 $250,000
1750-0100 Human Resources Division (1CS) $120,000 $120,000
1750-0300 State Contribution to Union Dental and Vision Insurance (1CS) $190,000 $190,000
1775-0115 Statewide Contract Fee (1RS) $200,295 $200,295
2000-0100 Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Admin(1CS) $407,861 $150,000 $257,861
2030-1000 Environmental Law Enforcement (1CS) $453,633 $453,633
2200-0100 Department of Environmental Protection Administration (1CS) $632,000 $235,000 $397,000
2200-0107 Recycling and Solid Waste Master Plan Operations (1CS) $50,000 $50,000
2260-8870 Hazardous Waste Cleanup Program (1CS) $83,000 $83,000
2300-0101 Riverways Protection Restoration and Public Access Promotion (1CS) $127,000 $127,000
2310-0300 Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program(1CS) $100,000 $100,000
2330-0100 Division of Marine Fisheries Administration (1CS) $343,221 $300,000 $43,221
2511-0100 Department of Agricultural Resources Administration(1CS) $150,000 $150,000
2511-0105 Emergency Food Assistance Program (1CS) $665,000 $165,000 $500,000
2800-0401 Stormwater Management (1CS) $50,000 $50,000
2800-0500 Beach Preservation (1CN) $300,000 $200,000 $100,000
2800-0501 DCR Seasonals (1CS) $434,500 $434,500
2800-0700 Office of Dam Safety (1CS) $75,000 $25,000 $50,000
2810-0100 State Parks and Recreation (1CS) $5,383,588 $4,013,000 $1,370,588
3000-1000 Department of Early Education and Care Administration (1CS) $25,000 $25,000
3000-7020 Multi-Generational Anti-Poverty Pilot(1CS) $100,000 $100,000
3000-7070 Reach Out and Read (1CS) $1,000,000 $1,000,000
4000-0005 Safe and Successful Youth Initiative(1CS) $60,000 $60,000
4000-0014 Edward M Kennedy Community Health Center(1CS) $100,000 $100,000
4000-0051 Family Resource Centers(1CS) $500,000 $500,000
4000-0300 EOHHS and MassHealth Administration(1CS) $525,000 $7,925,000 $7,400,000
4000-0600 MassHealth Senior Care(1CS) $6,350,000 $6,350,000
4000-0640 MassHealth Nursing Home Supplemental Rates(1CS) $2,800,000 $2,800,000
4000-0700 MassHealth Fee for Service Payments(1CS) $26,000,000 $1,250,000 $24,750,000
4110-1000 Community Services for the Blind(1CS) $175,000 $175,000
4110-2000 Turning 22 Program and Services(1CS) $140,000 $140,000
4120-2000 Vocational Rehabilitation for the Disabled (1CS) $165,248 $165,248
4120-4002 Living Independently for Equality Brockton(1CS) $30,000 $30,000
4125-0100 Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (1CS) $200,000 $200,000
4200-0300 Residential Services for Committed Population (1CS) $660,000 $660,000
4400-1000 Dept of Transitional Assistance Administration & Operation(1CS) $1,541,228 $1,541,228
4400-1100 Caseworkers Reserve(1CS) $20,000 $20,000
4401-1000 Employment Services Program(1CS) $75,000 $75,000
4403-2007 Supplemental Nutritional Program (1CS) $500,000 $500,000
4405-2000 State Supplement to Supplemental Security Income (1CS) $922,323 $922,323
4510-0110 Community Health Center Services (1CS) $275,000 $275,000
4510-0112 Postpartum Depression Pilot Program(1CS) $200,000 $200,000
4510-0600 Environmental Health Assessment and Compliance (1CS) $100,000 $100,000
4510-0710 Division of Health Care Quality and Improvement (1CS) $50,000 $50,000
4510-0716 Academic Detailing Program (1CS) $150,000 $150,000
4510-0721 Board of Registration in Nursing (1CS) $63,699 $63,699
4510-3010 Down Syndrome Clinic (1CS) $150,000 $150,000
4512-0103 HIV/AIDS Prevention Treatment and Services (1CS) $917,485 $917,485
4512-0200 Bureau of Substance Abuse Services (1CS) $1,929,000 $1,929,000
4512-0225 Compulsive Behavior Treatment Program Retained Revenue(1RN) $500,000 $500,000
4512-0500 Dental Health Services (1CS) $550,000 $550,000
4513-1000 Family Health Services (1CS) $181,802 $181,802
4513-1026 Suicide Prevention and Intervention Program (1CS) $50,000 $50,000
4513-1027 Samaratins Inc Suicide Prevention Services(1CS) $400,000 $400,000
4513-1098 Services to Survivors of Homicide Victims(1CS) $100,000 $100,000
4513-1111 Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (1CS) $330,000 $330,000
4513-1121 Stop Stroke Program(1CS) $630,000 $630,000
4513-1130 Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention and Treatment (1CS) $185,000 $185,000
4513-1131 Healthy Relationships Grant Program (1CS) $150,000 $150,000
4530-9000 Teenage Pregnancy Prevention Services (1CS) $150,000 $150,000
4590-0081 Public Health Evaluation Grants(1CS) $250,000 $250,000
4590-0250 School-Based Health Programs (1CS) $225,000 $225,000
4590-0915 Public Health Hospitals (1CS) $1,159,023 $150,000 $1,009,023
4590-0925 Prostate Cancer Research(1CS) $300,000 $300,000
4590-1503 Pediatric Palliative Care (1CS) $400,000 $400,000
4590-1507 Youth At-Risk Matching Grants (1CS) $539,000 $539,000
5911-1003 DDS Service Coordination and Administration(1CS) $175,000 $175,000
5920-3000 Respite Family Supports for the Developmentally Disabled (1CS) $107,000 $107,000
5920-3025 Aging with Developmental Disabilities(1CS) $150,000 $150,000
7002-0010 Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development (1CS) $407,000 $350,000 $57,000
7002-0012 Summer Jobs Program for At Risk Youth(1CS) $150,000 $150,000
7002-0020 Workforce Development Grant(1CS) $175,000 $175,000
7002-0032 Massachusetts Technology Collaborative(1CS) $500,000 $500,000
7002-1075 Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund(1CS) $500,000 $500,000
7002-1502 Transformative Development Fund(1CS) $500,000 $500,000
7002-1508 Mass Tech Collaborative Tech and Innovation Entrepre(1CS) $1,500,000 $1,500,000
7002-1512 Big Data Innovation and Workforce Fund (1CS) $2,000,000 $2,000,000
7002-1593 Digital Health Internship Incentive Fund(1CS) $100,000 $100,000
7003-0100 Office of the Secretary EOLWD Administration(1CS) $121,120 $75,000 $46,120
7003-0606 Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership(1CS) $2,000,000 $2,000,000
7003-0803 One Stop Career Centers(1CS) $262,400 $25,000 $237,400
7003-0902 Joint Labor Management Committee for Municipal Po(1CS) $125,000 $125,000
7003-1206 Massachusetts Service Alliance (1CS) $2,340,000 $2,340,000
7004-0099 Dept of Housing and Community Development Admin(1CS) $1,285,000 $1,285,000
7004-0100 Operation of Homeless Programs (1CS) $184,790 $184,790
7004-0101 Emergency Assistance Family Shelters and Services(1CS) $400,000 $400,000
7004-0102 Homeless Individuals Assistance (1CS) $650,000 $650,000
7004-3036 Housing Services and Counseling (1CS) $500,000 $150,000 $350,000
7004-9005 Subsidies to Public Housing Authorities (1CS) $500,000 $500,000
7004-9024 Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (1CS) $2,416,109 $2,416,109
7006-0040 Division of Professional Licensure (1CS) $248,000 $248,000
7007-0300 Massachusetts Office of Business Development (1CS) $62,000 $62,000
7007-0800 Small Business Development Center at UMass(1CS) $200,000 $200,000
7007-0952 Commonwealth Zoological Corporation(1CS) $100,000 $100,000
7007-1202 Mass Tech Collaborative – Computer Science Education Promoti (1CS) $1,700,000 $1,700,000
7008-0900 Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism(1CS) $7,647,000 $7,620,000 $27,000
7009-1700 Education Information Technology Costs(1CS) $300,000 $300,000
7009-6400 Programs for English Language Learners in Gateway Cities(1CS) $1,000,000 $1,000,000
7009-9600 Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment(1CS) $250,000 $250,000
7010-0005 Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (1CS) $1,878,844 $1,878,844
7010-0020 Bay State Reading Institute(1CN) $266,667 $266,667
7010-0033 Literacy Programs(1CS) $580,000 $580,000
7027-0019 School to Career Connecting Activities(1CS) $400,000 $400,000
7035-0002 Adult Basic Education (1CS) $644,444 $299,444 $345,000
7053-1925 School Breakfast Program (1CS) $250,000 $250,000
7061-0033 Public School Military Mitigation (1CS) $100,000 $100,000
7061-9011 Innovation Schools(1CS) $350,000 $200,000 $150,000
7061-9401 Assessment Consortium(1CS) $350,000 $350,000
7061-9406 Statewide College and Career Readiness Program(1CS) $466,666 $466,666
7061-9408 Targeted Intervention(1CS) $300,000 $300,000
7061-9611 After-School and Out-of-School Grants (1CS) $714,999 $714,999
8000-0105 Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (1CS) $30,000 $30,000
8000-0110 Criminal Justice Information Services(1CS) $35,000 $35,000
8000-0600 Executive Office of Public Safety(1CS) $1,690,900 $1,690,900
8000-1001 Boston Regional Counter Terrorism Intelligence Center(1CS) $750,000 $750,000
8000-1700 Public Safety Information Technology Costs(1CS) $150,000 $150,000
8100-1001 Department of State Police (1CS) $6,458,001 $765,562 $5,692,439
8100-1004 State Police Crime Laboratory(1CS) $324,100 $324,100
8200-0200 Municipal Police Training Committee (1CS) $100,632 $50,000 $50,632
8311-1000 Department of Public Safety and Inspections (1CS) $31,922 $31,922
8700-0001 Military Division (1CS) $58,290 $58,290
8700-1150 National Guard Tuition and Fee Waivers (1CS) $30,000 $30,000
8900-0001 Department of Correction Facility Operations(1CS) $368,000 $368,000
9110-1455 Prescription Advantage (1CS) $400,000 $400,000
9110-1630 Elder Home Care Purchased Services(1CS) $10,000 $10,000
9110-9002 Grants to Councils on Aging (1CS) $702,000 $702,000
Totals $118,541,951 $54,555,841 $63,986,110

Charlie Baker’s secret budget cuts don’t add up.

Update: A quick search on Twitter unearthed the document I’m looking for. You can grab a copy of Charlie Baker’s FY17 9C cuts by line item and earmark for yourself!

Compare: Notice how much information they left out from the official public line item listing. No wonder they didn’t want the detailed one circulated externally. There are enough cuts to different services in here to effect everyone in the Commonwealth.

Correction: The constituent aide and I were looking at 9C cuts to last year’s budget. I’ve updated link to the public line item accounting of FY17 budget cuts above. The public numbers and secret, private numbers still don’t match. The official and secret budget cuts are off by 64 million dollars!

Normally the Massachusetts state legislature handles the state budget and state budget cuts. Earlier this month, Governor Charlie Baker made unilateral so-called 9C budget cuts to slash funding from state services without going through the legislature. I called Baker’s office to find out more about his budget cuts.

This morning a constituent aide from Governor Baker’s office called back to tell me the details of the Charlie Baker’s budget cuts are NOT for external circulation. It wasn’t his decision though. His contact in Legislative Affairs made the call. He did ask if I had any specific questions. So I asked:

Why are the details of Charlie Baker’s reductions in public money to public services not public? Why can’t that document be circulated to the public?

He didn’t know. I guess the internal affairs of the Governor’s office are as secretive to their constituent aides as they are to Massachusetts constituents. I explained how this all started:

The reason I called initially is because I read an article explaining that a emergency food program in Cambridge called the Cambridge Weekend Backpack program lost its funding due to the 9C budget cuts. It tried to verify the cuts, but could not from the public line item listing.

At this point, the aide interrupted, “They are verified.” So I asked:

Can you tell me which line item the Cambridge Weekend Backpack program falls under? I could not guess based on the very general category names of the publicly posted account.

Happy to help, the aide agreed to look up the details for me in the document that he refused to send me. And he found it! A cut for $110,000, just like the original reporting said. It was bundled under a reduction to Department of Agricultural Resources Administration.

But wait a second! The budget cut to the Department of Agriculture Resources Administration that the governor’s office posted to the public was only $9,250. How could the true, secret value be over $100,000 more? So I asked the aide:

Why is the reported reduction in that line item only $9,250? You just told me that a single cut to that department is $110,000. Why are the numbers different?

He added that question to the list.

(Update: The Boston Globe reports that the line item reduction for emergency food assistance programs 2511-0105 was $650,000. Which is it? Is any of these numbers correct, Governor Baker?)

And he asked me if I had any more questions. The aide reminded me that their office is busy and cannot spend a lot of time with every constituent. So I made him an offer.

I understand that you’re very busy. And I really appreciate your calling me back and taking this time with me. If it would be easier for you, I can come to the office to pick up a print out of the 9C budget cuts and go over it myself. That way you can attend to other things.

The aide sympathized with me, but reminded me that the details of the budget cuts cannot be released to the public. For some reason they didn’t want me to know how the budget cuts would effect the entire state, so I asked specifically:

Can you send me the details of all of the services that were effected in Cambridge? I’d like to know so that I can choose which ones to donate to.

He said he would try to find out:

  1. Why are the details of Charlie Baker’s 9C budget unavailable to the general public?
  2. Why is there a discrepancy between the publicly reported budget cuts and the the internal, secret cuts?
  3. Which services in Cambridge are effected by the cuts and by how much?

In the meantime, he referred me to the Office of Administrative and Financial Affairs since they published the public line item account of the budget cuts. I called them and left a message.

Do you think it’s bizarre that Charlie Baker won’t release the details about how he uses public money on public services to the public, too? Call his office at (617) 725-4005. Let me know what they say!

Charlie Baker, why are your budget cuts a secret?

Imagine that someone you don’t know very well entered your home and started throwing your things to help you “clean up”. You didn’t invite them. They decided, on their own, to come by and help you out by clearing away things they don’t think you need. Now imagine in this bizarre situation that when you ask that shadowy person which of your things they’re throwing away, they reply, “That information isn’t available to you.” How would you feel? Well, that’s what Charlie Baker is doing to Massachusetts tax-payers right now. He used Section 9C budget cuts to shut down services across the state unilaterally, but Charlie Baker won’t tell us which services he’s shutting down!

I learned about Charlie Baker’s $98 million 9C budget cuts because they took took food from the mouths of hungry children by reducing funding for an emergency local food program in Cambridge. That made me want to know what else he slashed from the state budget.

But it’s very hard to find out what else was removed from the budget—or even verify that the Cambridge Weekend Backpack program was removed. The way the line item account of the cuts was published obscures the details of what was hit. The public account of the cuts lists each reduction at the program-level, which makes each line item big and vague. Because the governor’s office bundled the individual cuts together, it’s impossible to tell which specific services are effected. For example, Charlie Baker slashed more than 3.6 million dollars from the state police budget. Does that mean they’ll lay off cops? Perhaps they won’t buy new bullet-proof vests. Maybe they’ll close down police stations. I don’t know because everything is lumped together.

So I called to ask for a more detailed line item account so that I could see for myself which services were, in fact, removed from the budget.

Here’s roughly what I asked when I called Charlie Baker’s office at (617) 725-4005:

Hi, how are you? My name is Joshua Reyes and I live in Cambridge, MA. I’m calling about the 9C cuts the governor made earlier this month. Where can I find a detailed line item account of all of the cuts? The list that’s posted on your office website makes it impossible to tell which individual services have been cut from state programs.

The aide I spoke to mentioned that the complete line item account of Charlie Baker’s budget cuts is probably not available to the public. He told me that he’d have to check with the Office of Legislative Affairs. I asked how I could contact them. He told me there is no public, direct line to that office. Instead, he took my contact information and said that someone would call me back once they had decided whether to release public information about public money to the public.

To make sure that my request was in writing, I also filled out a form on the governor’s website.

Subject: 9C Fine-grain Line Item Accounting

I'd like a fine-grain line item account of the recent 9C budget cuts.

The listing attached to the Governor's 9C FY16 Filing Letter is 
at the department level, which makes it impossible to see which 
services within a program will actually be cut. 

As a tax-payer I am very interested in how my taxes are spent.

Please send me a copy of the communications sent to each program
effected by the 9C reductions.

Thank you very much.
Have a happy new year!
Joshua Reyes

A few hours later, I received two form-letter responses one after the other. The first thanked me for my comments on Question 4, the recent ballot measure to legalize marijuana use. The second thanked me for my concern about the budget. Neither response addressed what I asked for. They were thoughtless, empty, stock responses that you send when you want end a conversation with someone.

Subject: Governor Baker responding to your message
Date: Thu, Dec 29, 2016 at 3:34 PM
Dear Joshua,

On behalf of Governor Charlie Baker, thank you for your recent 
correspondence regarding question 4. We understand your concern 
about this issue, and we are grateful to have your voice as part
of the discussion.

Please feel free to contact our office in the future with any
further questions or concerns; your comments are always welcome
in this administration. 


Constituent Services Aide
Office of Governor Charlie Baker
(617) 725-4005
Subject: Governor Baker responding to your message
Date: Thu, Dec 29, 2016 at 3:34 PM
Dear Joshua,

On behalf of Governor Charlie Baker, thank you for your recent
correspondence regarding the budget. We understand your concern
about this issue, and we are grateful to have your voice as part
of the discussion.

Please feel free to contact our office in the future with any 
further questions or concerns; your comments are always welcome
in this administration. 


Constituent Services Aide
Office of Governor Charlie Baker
(617) 725-4005

Since both emails welcomed me to chat with them again, I called the Charlie Baker’s office one more time to explain my request.

Hi, how are you today? I’m calling because I just received two emails from your office and I found them both confusing. I was hoping you could me out.

I called earlier today to request a detailed line item account of the 9C budget cuts Charlie Baker made earlier this month. One of the emails I received thanked me for my commenting on Question 4, which is about marijuana. I called about the 9C budget cuts. The second one thanked me for my concern about the budget. But I did not express any concern. I requested information about the budget.

At this point the aide explained that the obscure, program-level report was all that is available to the public. So, I continued.

But the listing on the website makes it impossible to see what was actually cut. For example, how will the $3.6M reduction to the state police be applied?

He asked what questions I had specifically. I repeated that I would like to know what will happen to the state police. Again, he took my contact information. Before the aide could hang up with me I asked:

Can I have a contact to request when I call back to follow up?

For the first time, someone in Charlie Baker’s office answered me simply and directly: No.
Charlie Baker, why are the details of your 9C budget cuts a secret? As a tax-payer, I’d like to know how my state uses its tax revenues. Decisions to use public money for public institutions belong to the public. Please make the details of your 9C budget cuts public. And while you’re at it, please make public the report that the commissioner of the administration needed to write in order to invoke the 9C cuts in the first place!

Want to know what Governor Charlie Baker is hiding? Please call the Governor’s office (617) 725-4005 and ask for a detailed copy of the December 9C budget cuts. And please let me know what they say!