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 http://www.mass.gov/anf/budget-taxes-and-procurement/state-budget/fy17-budget-info/fy17-budget-savings-information/ 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
The materials posted online at www.mass.gov 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.
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
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!