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Commonwealth of Massachusetts

The Governor's Budget Recommendation

Constitutional and Independent Agencies


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Judiciary

District Attorneys

Secretary of the Commonwealth

Treasurer and Receiver-General

State Auditor

Attorney General

State Ethics Commission

Inspector General

Office of Campaign and Political Finance

Judiciary

The Massachusetts Judiciary includes the Supreme Judicial Court, the Appeals Court, the Trial Court, and the Committee for Public Counsel Services.

The Supreme Judicial Court performs a fundamental role in the formation of legal principles regarding the conduct of all residents of the Commonwealth and the protection of their rights and liberties. It has original jurisdiction over certain cases and hears appeals on decisions of the Trial Court and Appeals Court. In addition to general supervision of the state judicial system and the Massachusetts bar, the Supreme Judicial Court makes or approves rules for the procedures and administration of the courts and, under certain constitutional conditions, renders advisory opinions on important questions of law to the Governor, the Legislature, and the Executive Council. The Supreme Judicial Court also oversees the operation of the Commission on Judicial Conduct, the Board of Bar Examiners, and the Mental Health Legal Advisors Committee.

The Appeals Court, an intermediate appellate court, handles most of the cases appealed from the departments of the Trial Court.

The Trial Court, the largest component of the Judiciary, is divided into seven departments: Superior Court, District Court, Probate and Family Court, Land Court, Boston Municipal Court, Housing Court, and Juvenile Court. It currently consists of 341 judges, including a Chief Justice within each department. The Chief Administrative Justice of the Trial Court manages over 100 individual courts, as well as the operations of the Jury Commissioner.

The Committee for Public Counsel Services provides court-appointed attorneys to represent indigent defendants in court proceedings.

Budget Recommendations

The budget recommendation for Fiscal Year 1997 includes transferring $33.12 million in funding for post-sentencing supervisory probation services from the Trial Court to the new Department of Criminal Justice within the Executive Office of Public Safety and to the new Department of Juvenile Justice within the new Executive Office of Family Services. A transfer of $26.95 million reflects that post-sentencing supervisory functions of the probation departments in the Superior Court and District Court divisions will be assumed by the Department of Criminal Justice, while a transfer of $6.17 million reflects that the post-sentencing supervisory functions of the probation departments in the Juvenile Courts will be transferred to the Department of Juvenile Justice. By consolidating adult probation and parole within the Department of Criminal Justice, and their juvenile equivalents within the Department of Juvenile Justice, the criminal justice system will function more efficiently and with greater emphasis on the continuum of services it manages.

The Fiscal Year 1997 budget recommendation fully funds the salaries and salary increases of 345 judges, as well as the costs associated with the clerk pay raises included in the Fiscal Year 1996 General Appropriations Act. It also includes $13.03 million in expansion. The Fiscal Year 1997 proposal for the Supreme Judicial Court incorporates expansion of $849,000: $100,000 for the Franklin County Lab Project (a community-based model of service-oriented justice contemplated in the Reinventing Justice 2022 report), $67,000 for law clerk salaries, and $682,000 for battered women's legal assistance services.

The proposal for the Appeals Court recommends $284,861 of expansion: $63,616 to fund additional staff resources to reflect an increased caseload, $42,794 for the purchase and upgrade of computers and office equipment, and $178,451 for five new judicial and attorney positions and support.

The proposal for the Trial Court includes a total of $10.82 million of expansion, to be allocated as follows: The Fiscal Year 1997 recommendation for the Committee on Public Counsel Services includes $1.07 million of expansion. To contain the rapidly rising costs of providing indigent legal representation in the areas of criminal and family law, $175,000 is included for the audit and oversight unit. One hundred fifty-six thousand is for staff merit salary adjustments. To achieve more adequate supervision of private attorneys, $129,000 is included for an in-house Children and Family Law Oversight and Training program. Finally, $322,000 is recommended for the replacement of obsolete computer hardware and software in the 13 Public Defender branch offices, achieving greater efficiencies through increased computer capability consistent with the recent information technology allocation to the Trial Court.

In addition to the above, four items within the public defender accounts are recommended, yielding savings of approximately $300,000 in the private attorney accounts. These items are:
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District Attorneys

District Attorneys represent the Commonwealth in most criminal proceedings, including those brought before the grand jury. There are 11 District Attorneys elected to four-year terms to represent each of the State's regional districts: Suffolk, Northern, Eastern, Middle, Western, Northwestern, Norfolk, Plymouth, Bristol, Cape and Islands, and Berkshire.

District Attorneys participate in bail hearings; commitment proceedings related to criminal matters; presentation of evidence in all inquests; and necessary proceedings for rendition actions. They also are responsible for all necessary appeals to the Appeals Court and Supreme Judicial Court, together with any necessary post-trial representations. The District Attorneys also provide assistance to other law enforcement agencies investigating criminal activities, including homicide. Additional activities requiring the direct involvement of the District Attorneys include: child abuse investigations; juvenile justice programs; career criminal identification; educational programs for the public, police, and social service agencies; victim-witness assistance services; and domestic violence prevention.

Budget Recommendations

Fiscal Year 1997 funding includes expansion of $5 million. Of this amount, $1 million will be used for state police overtime for criminal investigations. An additional $209,297 will be used for domestic violence prevention, bringing the total District Attorney domestic violence prevention funding to $3.4 million. The remaining expansion of $3.8 million will be distributed among the District Attorneys for all programs. This recommendation also transfers state police overtime funding from the State Police into the District Attorneys' budgets. This transfer provides each District Attorney with control of, and accountability for, overtime expenditures for state police officers who are assigned to District Attorneys to work on criminal investigations.

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Secretary of the Commonwealth

The Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth will ensure that the public has access to historic as well as current information. In addition, the Secretary will be responsible for a variety of administrative tasks that are vital to state government, including supervising voter registration and elections procedures; providing voter information; and providing access to public agencies' documents.

The Secretary's Office is the principal information agency for the Commonwealth. It maintains the State Archives, which houses Massachusetts historical documents and artifacts; and the State Records Center, the repository for recent records of public agencies. The Secretary publishes changes to state laws and regulations and advertises city, town and state procurement of goods and services. Information is further disseminated through publications, such as "Citizens' Guide to State Services," providing information on all governmental services; mailings; and on-line access for corporate and securities information. The Secretary registers all Massachusetts corporations, lobbyists, securities brokers, and investment advisors; maintains the Governor's appointment system; and administers the oath of office to appointed officials. The Secretary's Office is also responsible for providing tours of the State House for the 100,000 tourists that visit each year.

In Fiscal Year 1997, the Secretary of the Commonwealth will have the following objectives: The Secretary will achieve these objectives by continuing to enhance computer systems, particularly for the Motor Voter Registry, which allows Commonwealth voters to register to vote at any Department of Licensing and Regulation branch office, (formerly the Registry of Motor Vehicles). The Secretary's One Stop Shopping program, which will provide individuals with all forms necessary to start a business, will streamline and encourage new business development. Previously, new businesses were required to acquire necessary forms from many different governmental agencies.

In Fiscal Year 1997, several accounts within the Office of the Secretary will be consolidated to provide more streamlined operations. The office of Indian Affairs will be transferred from the Executive Office of Communities and Development into the Office of the Secretary.

Budget Recommendations

The amount recommended for the Secretary of the Commonwealth includes an expansion of $255,000 to implement recent legislation creating Limited Liability Partnerships and Limited Liability Corporations; to establish a corporate dissolution project; and to provide the One Stop Shopping program. The Secretary expects to increase revenue in Fiscal Year 1997 by more than $4 million as a result of these expansions.

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Treasurer and Receiver-General

The Treasurer and Receiver-General is an elected, constitutional officer of the Commonwealth. The Treasurer has direct jurisdiction over the Office of the Treasurer, the State Board of Retirement, and the Emergency Finance Board. In addition, the Treasurer is the chairman of the State Lottery Commission, which is within the Office of the Treasurer. Although not under the direction of the Treasurer, the Massachusetts Cultural Council is also budgeted within the Office of the Treasurer.

The Treasurer's Office is responsible for a variety of critical financial functions, including: receiving and managing all monies paid to the Commonwealth; issuing and managing the state's long-term debt; issuing short-term debt and managing the Commonwealth's cash flow; paying retirees and investing the state's pension funds; and, in concert with the Comptroller's Office, processing and paying the Commonwealth's bills.

The State Board of Retirement administers the pension system for state employees and retirees. The Commonwealth's pension obligations include: retirement benefits for retired state employees and teachers; reimbursements to municipalities for cost-of-living adjustments; payments to municipalities for book-to-market losses incurred by municipalities that joined the Pension Reserves Investment Trust Fund; and retirement benefits for certain classes of non-contributory employees. In Fiscal Year 1997, the Teachers' Retirement Board, which administers the pension system for the Commonwealth's public school teachers, will be transferred from the Executive Office for Administration and Finance, and merged with the State Board of Retirement. This consolidation will result in the achievement of cost efficiencies in the delivery of services to current and retired state employees and teachers.

The State Lottery Commission was established to raise revenue to be distributed to cities and towns as unrestricted local aid. In Fiscal Year 1997, the Lottery distribution will increase by $41.6 million to a total of $484.2 million, as a result of the agreement to eliminate the cap on the amount of Lottery revenue distributed to cities and towns, and revenue growth due to the installation of additional instant ticket vending machines. The Lottery's recommended appropriation in Fiscal Year 1997 includes additional funding for the production of instant tickets; the acquisition of additional instant ticket vending machines; the partial restoration of the Lottery's advertising budget; costs associated with the bid of the new central computer system; and the annualized cost of the collective bargaining unit contract that was entered into in Fiscal Year 1995. In Fiscal Year 1997, the accounts for Keno, advertising, health and welfare benefits, and the collective bargaining unit contract costs are consolidated into the Lottery's main administrative account.

The Massachusetts Cultural Council operates educational programs in the arts, sciences, and humanities, and provides financial support and technical assistance to local arts councils, cultural organizations, and individual artists. In Fiscal Year 1997, the Massachusetts Cultural Council will receive an additional $1 million to fund increases in three programs: YouthReach, which provides cultural programs for at-risk youth in low income communities; Science Literacy, which funds programs that expose children to science education both in and out of school; and Core Grant Programs, which provide monetary and technical assistance to cultural organizations and artists. Also funded will be two new programs: the Education Partnership, which promotes systematic changes in the ways that schools educate children in the arts, and the Local Incentive Program, which provides matching grants for monies that local cultural councils are able to raise.

In Fiscal Year 1997, debt service is projected to rise by $106 million. Because the State is locked into borrowing commitments undertaken over a 20 to 30 year period, the controls implemented under the Weld/Cellucci Administration can be translated only gradually into lower debt service expenditures.

Budget Recommendations

The amount recommended for Fiscal Year 1997 will enable the Treasurer and Receiver-General to achieve its missions as outlined above.

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State Auditor

The Office of the State Auditor improves the efficiency of state government by auditing the administration and expenditure of public funds and reporting the findings to the public. The State Auditor provides the Governor, the Legislature, departments, oversight agencies, and the general public with an independent and objective evaluation of the Commonwealth's fiscal operations and financial management. Massachusetts General Laws mandates the State Auditor to audit state agencies, offices, commissions, courts, authorities, higher education institutions, and activities of the Commonwealth. The audits must follow the generally accepted government auditing standards and occur at least once every two years.

The State Auditor also audits the thousands of vendors and contractors that do business with the Commonwealth. The scope of State Auditor audits extends beyond checking the accuracy of financial statements to include evaluation of agencies' overall management and operations. The State Auditor is responsible for auditing the expenditure of state funds disbursed to local entities.

The State Auditor is responsible for the Division of Local Mandates which is principally charged with determining the financial impact of proposed or actual legislation and regulations on the Commonwealth's cities and towns. The Division also performs cost studies and conducts financial impact reviews.

In Fiscal Year 1997, the State Auditor will pursue the following audits: In Fiscal Year 1997, the Division of Local Mandates will conduct two education studies. The first study will focus on the Chapter 70 foundation formula and the statute's impact of the Education Reform Act on education spending. The second study will focus on the fiscal impact of the school choice program.

Budget Recommendations

The Fiscal Year 1997 recommendation is $13.07 million. This level of funding includes $600,000 for expanded oversight of capital projects; technology upgrade and training; and a small cost of living adjustment.

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Attorney General

The Attorney General is charged with representing the Commonwealth in legal proceedings before state and federal courts. The majority of cases handled by the Attorney General involve defending the Commonwealth when a state law or executive action is challenged. The Attorney General's Office also handles cases dealing with contract, land damage, and tort claims, as well as other suits seeking monetary awards from the Commonwealth.

The Attorney General's Office investigates and prosecutes cases involving the Americans with Disabilities Act and enforces state law by prosecuting cases dealing with discrimination and bias, environmental protection, Medicaid provider fraud, and instances of unlawful receipt of government benefits. The Attorney General represents the consumer's interests in utility, automobile, and health insurance rate-setting procedures.

The Attorney General's Office includes the Wage Enforcement Program, the Commission on Uniform State Laws, and the Massachusetts Office of Victim Assistance. The Wage Enforcement Program investigates, enforces, and prosecutes violations of the minimum and prevailing wage statutes. The Commission on Uniform State Laws reviews local and state mandates for their constitutionality and compatibility with current Massachusetts General Laws. Finally, the Attorney General administers the Massachusetts Office of Victim Assistance. This program provides monetary awards to people who have suffered physical or psychological injury as a result of crime.

Budget Recommendations

The proposal for Fiscal Year 1997 consolidates the Local Consumer Aid Fund (0810-0031), the Anti-Trust Enforcement Account (0810-0035), and the Massachusetts Office of Victim Assistance (0810-1031) into the Attorney General's Administration Account (0810-0000). This consolidation will better utilize existing resources, and reduce administrative duplication.

The Fiscal Year 1997 recommendation is $23.58 million. This level of funding includes $1 million in expansion funds for personnel to support the responsibilities of the Attorney General's Office. In Fiscal Year 1997, $460,141 is transferred from the Department of Law Enforcement to fund overtime payments in account 0810-0000 for state police officers assigned to the Office of the Attorney General.

Victim and Witness Assistance Board

The Victim and Witness Assistance Board helps crime victims and survivors deal with the aftermath of crime through advocacy and assistance. The Board oversees the operation of the Massachusetts Victim's Bill of Rights and promotes victims rights by working closely with criminal justice agencies throughout the Commonwealth, including the victim-witness advocates in each District Attorney's Office. The Victim and Witness Assistance Board serves as a resource for crime survivors, service providers, and other criminal justice professionals by providing referrals, training, legislative and policy advocacy, community education and outreach, and information on support services

In Fiscal Year 1996, the Board implemented a new domestic violence pilot program in the Probate and District Courts of Hampshire County. Building on this project's success, the Board has developed long term plans for a statewide program of trained, full-time, specialized advocates in every court in the Commonwealth to assist victims who seek civil protective orders against their batterers. These SAFEPLAN advocates will provide safety planning, assist in the legal process, and make referrals to appropriate community resources.

The Board contracts with 37 community-based organizations to provide direct services to victims. The contracts are funded by the federal Victims of Crime Act of 1994 (VOCA). VOCA funding provides mental health counseling, advocacy, and other services to: Budget Recommendations

Demonstrating its continued commitment to combating domestic violence, the Weld/Cellucci Administration is recommending $998,120 to fund the expansion of SAFEPLAN to all Probate Courts in the Commonwealth and an additional six District Courts. The recommended budget amount for the operation of the Board includes an expansion of $20,000 for the printing and distribution of materials explaining the Victims Rights Law.

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State Ethics Commission

The State Ethics Commission will administer and enforce the Commonwealth's financial disclosure and conflict-of-interest laws. The financial disclosure law requires that every candidate for state or county office, every elected state or county official, and certain designated state and county officials, who hold major policy-making positions, file an annual statement of financial interests. These statements are designed to identify any interest or association that may create a potential for conflict with an individual's official responsibilities.

The Commission explains the conflict-of-interest and financial disclosure laws to those covered by them. It also writes advisory opinions upon request. The Commission prepares and distributes publications, sponsors conferences and seminars, publishes public versions of their opinions and major enforcement documents, and works in close cooperation with other agencies at all levels of government.

Budget Recommendations

The amount recommended for the State Ethics Commission includes an expansion of $50,000, which will allow the Commission to double the number of educational seminars it provides to state, county, and municipal officials.

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Inspector General

The Inspector General's mandate is to prevent and detect fraud, waste, and abuse in the expenditure of state, county, and local public funds. The Inspector General is appointed to a five-year term by a majority vote of the Attorney General, State Auditor, and Governor. The Inspector General serves as an ex officio member of the Asset Management Board. The Office of the Inspector General has two primary functions: prevention and detection.

Prevention personnel focus on the prevention of waste in government. They assist state and local agency efforts to achieve efficiency, comply with statutes and regulations, perform audits and management reviews, and review proposed legislation. The Inspector General reports regularly in public letters and publications, such as the quarterly Procurement Bulletin which focuses on Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 30B, the Uniform Procurement Act, for local government officials.

Detection personnel review allegations of fraud and abuse, many of which are received through a statewide complaint "hotline". The Office also lends its expertise to the Attorney General, District Attorneys, and other investigatory agencies. The Inspector General reports results of investigations to the Attorney General or the United States Attorney General when there are reasonable grounds to believe there has been a violation of state or federal criminal law.

Budget Recommendations

The amount recommended for Fiscal Year 1997 will enable the Inspector General to provide the same level of services as in Fiscal Year 1996.

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Office of Campaign and Political Finance

The Office of Campaign and Political Finance is responsible for the administration and enforcement of Chapter 55 of the General Laws, the Commonwealth's campaign finance law. The Office reviews and audits more than 18,000 annual campaign finance reports that various candidates and committees are required to file. In addition, the Office conducts educational seminars throughout the Commonwealth for candidates and treasurers of political committees, and for municipal clerks and election officials who are also responsible for administering campaign finance law at the local level. The Office renders written advisory opinions upon request; and prepares and distributes publications, memos, interpretive bulletins, and all forms to be used for campaign finance filings at the state and municipal levels.

Budget Recommendations

The amount recommended for Fiscal Year 1997 will enable the Office of Campaign and Political Finance to provide the same level of services as in Fiscal Year 1996.

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