State agencies have spent millions of our tax dollars to hire lobbyists so they can try and influence other parts of our state government.
Now, in the face of criticism that this is wasteful spending, the practice is coming to an end.
Governor Deval Patrick has been pushing for this reform for the past several years, but met resistance from the legislature.
This year, the ban on hiring outside lobbyists made it through the budget process and went into affect when the governor recently signed the state budget.
“Particularly in these challenging fiscal times, they're spending scarce government, public funds, to hire outside lobbyists to come talk to me or other people on Beacon Hill just is inappropriate,” said Secretary for Administration and Finance Jay Gonzalez, who is the governor’s top budget advisor.
>> Read the letter instituting the ban
A Fox Undercover investigation last year found state organizations spending one million dollars a year on lobbyists.
Over a four-and-a-half year period, The Massachusetts Convention Center Authority spent $334,000.
Mass Housing spent more than $400,000.
Massachusetts Bay Community College paid lobbyists $102,000.
Now, those agencies and others will have to deal with Beacon Hill on their own. “It isn't going to solve all of the state's fiscal problems,” said Gonzalez. “But every dollar that goes to pay for an outside lobbyist is a dollar that isn't going to provide subsidized housing to someone who can't afford housing or someone who needs subsidized health insurance or to be able to put one more state police officer on the street.”
Some of these agencies and authorities had told Fox Undercover they hired lobbyists because they needed help keeping track of bills on Beacon Hill.
But that explanation doesn't make much sense to Secretary Gonzalez who says you can follow things pretty easily on the internet.
Gonzalez also believes agencies hired lobbyists simply to protect their own turf.