FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 9, 2017
Emily Fitzmaurice, Massachusetts Democratic Party, 617-939-0808
Governor Baker’s Patronage Hires and Management Failures Are Costing the State Millions
Massachusetts Democrats Call on Governor Baker to Release List of New Hires
BOSTON – Despite a growing economy and low unemployment, Governor Baker’s mismanagement of the state budget has resulted in a growing budget gap.
“Instead of finding real solutions to the state’s budget problems, Baker has cut programs that people depend on, nickeled and dimed taxpayers with fare and fee increases, stocked state government with patronage hires, and used accounting gimmicks to skate by,” said Massachusetts Democratic Party Chair Gus Bickford. “Baker’s budget bungles have finally caught up with him. The Governor should release the list of names and resumes of all new hires since he took office, and propose a real plan to deal with the state’s budget gap, not another set of harmful budget cuts that target ordinary people.”
Dramatic revenue shortfalls put Baker’s mismanagement of the budget on full display:
- Baker has loaded up state departments with patronage hires. Today, the Boston Globe reported that Anthony G. Virgilio, the son of supporters of Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, was given a newly-created state job that did not require a public posting to attract applicants or a background check, even after he left another state job after being charged with operating under the influence and leaving the scene of a crash. Baker previously called patronage “exactly what’s wrong with the system,” but his actions in office – including hiring a ‘patronage secretary’ at the start of his term charged with handing jobs to the friends and family of political supporters – are emblematic of the deceit and mismanagement that ultimately harms the people of Massachusetts.
- Baker gave his buddies at Keolis, the private commuter rail contractor, millions of dollars in giveaways. In July 2015, the Baker Administration began allowing Keolis to keep fines for poor service and use the penalty money to hire more employees. In October 2016, the Boston Globe revealed that the Baker Administration had secretly waived $839,000 in fines for Keolis’ poor service in February and March 2015. And in July 2016, the Baker Administration renegotiated the commuter rail contract to give Keolis $15 million more each year, without putting basic performance conditions in place.
- He’s allowed businesses to freeload on MassHealth to subsidize their profits, waiting too long to propose an employer assessment that makes businesses pay their fair share the costs for employees who sign up for MassHealth instead of their employer’s plan.
- While wage growth has been slow, Baker hasn’t supported raising the minimum wage above the current $11 rate, even though past minimum wage increases have accelerated wage growth among low-wage workers and spurred economic growth in neighborhoods across the state.
- Baker has failed to raise new revenue from the wealthy, citing his “no-new-taxes pledge.”
Instead of proposing real solutions, Baker has made budget cuts that hurt ordinary people in Massachusetts:
- In December, Baker’s 9C budget cuts slashed funding for opioid abuse prevention programs across the state, as well as anti-addiction programs in several school districts.
- Despite his no-new-taxes pledge, Baker has nickeled and dimed taxpayers with MBTA fare increases and fee hikes.
- Baker sliced $5.94 million from local tourism councils and programs, which support local community development and create full and part-time jobs for working families throughout the state.
- Baker’s FY17 budget raided the state’s trust funds, using one time revenues to fill gaps in his budget. Last fall, Baker raided the health care trust fund for the uninsured, leaving thousands without the health insurance that fund was set aside to provide.
- Baker tried to eliminate weekend commuter rail service and cut the RIDE service for disabled passengers, and only gave up when he was met with massive opposition.
- Baker’s FY17 budget diverted money from the Rainy Day Fund before it arrived, leaving the state drastically unprepared for the next recession.
And his proposed budget for next year would hurt people even more:
- Governor Baker’s FY18 budget provides the smallest increase in Chapter 70 aid since 2011. It only adds $20 per student to help improve local schools—not enough to keep up with rising costs.
- Governor Baker’s budget would eliminate healthcare benefits for close to 300,000 people in the MassHealth CarePlus program for Obamacare beneficiaries in Massachusetts.
“It’s time for Governor Baker to stop making Massachusetts citizens pay for his management failures,” said Bickford. “We need a Governor who will address the real, structural issues with our state’s economy and budget, not continue balancing the budget on the backs of vulnerable people.”