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Clothing For Massachusetts State Workers Costs Taxpayers $44M

Posted by on Jul. 8, 2011 at 5:05 AM
  • 8 Replies

As the commonwealth of Massachusetts digs itself out of a recession, Team 5 Investigates has learned there are thousands of state workers who are going to look good doing it.


An analysis of state records show in the last four years Massachusetts has spent $43,968,295.99 on clothing. The majority of those purchases are tied to longstanding union contracts, while many others are not. In this fiscal crisis, each agency is able to spend what it wants and Team 5 found there is no statewide system of oversight.“This is an area ripe for abuse on the one hand, but certainly ripe for review,” said Rep. Bradley Jones, House Minority Leader.The biggest spenders on clothing for state workers are the Department of Correction, which spent $15,279,561 in the last four years. State Police doled out $5,867,630.76 and the Trial Court made $1,706,350 worth of purchases.“There are some (purchases) that are clearly justifiable, some that fall into a gray area, and some you say wait a second, this is clearly ridiculous and a waste of taxpayer money,” said Jones.Records show the Department of Veterans’ Services spent $13,485.73 on polo shirts, pants and windbreakers for employees.The Lottery shelled out $28,334.46 to outfit 107 workers.The Department of Conservation and Recreation spent approximately $1,652,199 on clothing for rangers, firefighters, lifeguards and park interpreters.And the Parole Board spent $25,011.36 on jackets for some employees and polo shirts for everyone.“That’s half of the annual salary of someone who has probably been laid off during this fiscal crisis,” said Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation.“In many cases, individuals, just as in the private sector could be expected to provide proper clothing for their workplace,” said Steve Poftak of the Pioneer Institute.At Rick’s Auto Collision in Revere, every technician pays $5 a week to rent 11 sets of uniforms and two jackets from an outside company. If their clothes get worn or torn, they swap them out for new ones. “So we purchase nothing,” said Rick Starbard, the shop’s owner.So why haven’t state agencies opted for similar savings? “To the extent that that’s a more cost effective and cheaper way to do it, that’s something that should be looked at,” answered Matt Gorkowitz, the state’s undersecretary of administration and finance.“Why shouldn’t state workers pay for their own clothes?” asked Kelly.“This is a necessary part of their jobs. We assume that agencies are making the correct decisions in terms of who and who doesn’t need uniforms,” said Gorkowitz.“Should there be more oversight at the state level for this?” asked Kelly.“They (individual agencies) are really the ones responsible for insuring that. When you look at each of the individual departments, it’s less than 1 percent of the department’s expenditures,” said Gorkowitz.But it’s costing taxpayers tens of millions of dollars. And while some state workers get an $850 clothing allowance each year, it’s a stark contrast to the $40 a year the legislature recently budgeted for each the state’s neediest children with parents on Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC).
by on Jul. 8, 2011 at 5:05 AM
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Replies (1-8):
lovinangels
by on Jul. 8, 2011 at 8:22 AM

This is ridiculous! I spend at least a hundred dollars a year on clothing and my husband's work clothes bill is pretty high. They should pay for their own clothes.

nanaofsix531
by on Jul. 8, 2011 at 8:49 AM

Isn't it a states right to pay for what they want?If the federal government isn't paying for it let them fight it out in Mass.

GLWerth
by Gina on Jul. 8, 2011 at 10:33 AM

Whatever....all state workers are evil leeches and all private sector employees are hard working, salt of the earth folks.

Well, the non-union ones, all union members should be lined up against the wall and shot for daring to believe that they have rights.

See, I can talk like an R who watches Fox News!

SEEKEROFSHELLS
by Platinum Member on Jul. 8, 2011 at 10:47 AM

  What's an R?

Quoting GLWerth:

Whatever....all state workers are evil leeches and all private sector employees are hard working, salt of the earth folks.

Well, the non-union ones, all union members should be lined up against the wall and shot for daring to believe that they have rights.

See, I can talk like an R who watches Fox News!


GLWerth
by Gina on Jul. 8, 2011 at 10:56 AM

R = Republican, D = Democrat, as they list them under their names on TV.

Quoting SEEKEROFSHELLS:

  What's an R?

Quoting GLWerth:

Whatever....all state workers are evil leeches and all private sector employees are hard working, salt of the earth folks.

Well, the non-union ones, all union members should be lined up against the wall and shot for daring to believe that they have rights.

See, I can talk like an R who watches Fox News!

 


Sarcasimom
by on Jul. 8, 2011 at 3:42 PM
Taxachusetts
Thomigirl
by Platinum Member on Jul. 8, 2011 at 4:16 PM

Oy fucking vey.  Bucking shots at unions again...whatever..

candlegal
by Judy on Jul. 9, 2011 at 8:40 AM

LOL, that is what we called it when we lived there.

Quoting Sarcasimom:

Taxachusetts


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