Wednesday, March 24, 2010

This is One Paper Cut Worth Supporting

WBZ-TV unveiled a new I-Team investigative piece last night detailing the millions of dollars the state is spending each year to print and distribute agency reports. According to the I-Team, the state is wasting tens of millions of taxpayer dollars a year on reports that mostly go unread, with the state’s executive branch alone spending $35 million a year on paper and toner.

This news didn’t exactly come as a surprise to us here at Scaling The Hill, since the Senate Republican Caucus has been looking to eliminate this wasteful practice for some time now. In fact, during the last two budget cycles, the Caucus filed language that would require state agencies to post their reports online, while allowing for a very limited number of paper copies to be made available upon request. This would eliminate the bulk of the printing costs but still ensure that the information contained in the reports is readily available to legislators and the general public.

The Caucus’ proposal has drawn support in the Senate, which previously endorsed this cost-saving measure. The problem is, the language has yet to survive conference committee and make it into the final budget. But with the Patrick Administration identifying a new $300 million shortfall in the current state budget – and a structural deficit of several billion dollars anticipated in FY2011 – it’s long past time to implement this cost-saving reform.