Massachusetts’s Taxpayer Protection Act is the gold-standard when it comes to ensuring government contracts are awarded fairly and will result in cost-savings that don’t simply rely on slashing wages and benefits for workers. Also known as the Pacheco Law, the legislation was passed in 1993 after years of wonton government outsourcing led to drastic failures and outrageous corruption by contractors. The reckless privatization of critical services like mental health care for Massachusetts’s most vulnerable citizens led to the creation of important standards and protections for public workers, service recipients and taxpayers.
Businesses that want to win a contract with the Commonwealth must prove they can lower costs to do the same service at the same level of quality while providing their employees with the same wages and benefits as the public agency. A uniform process for evaluating and awarding contracts ensures conflicts of interest are rooted out while the state auditor oversees everything.
After 22 years of successfully protecting taxpayers from unscrupulous contractors, the Governor of Massachusetts wants to exempt the state’s public transportation agency from the Pacheco law. Public transportation is a critical public good that ensures residents of the state can get to work or school while providing good jobs that keep families from needing public assistance to get by. Waiving Pacheco protections – even temporarily – for the MBTA undermines the level playing field the law was meant to create and puts quality transportation services at risk.
Our allies at Community Labor United recently published a terrific report titled “The Path to Better Public Transit” that makes many recommendations on how to improve the agency without undermining the Pacheco Law or transportation services desperately needed by struggling Bay Staters. They warn legislators against falling for band-aid solutions and privatization and instead implore the state government to work with riders and transit employees towards a system that will reliably serve the community for generations.
The Pacheco Law is the gold standard for contracting. Thanks to CLU for their work to keep it that way.