Massachusetts House and Senate’s Self-Generated Audits Provide Little Information

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 By Colin A. Young
State House News Service

The most recently completed audits of Massachusetts House of Representatives accounts and joint House-Senate accounts were filed earlier this month, revealing some very basic financial information and little else.

The fiscal year 2021 audits of House and joint accounts were conducted by accounting and wealth management firm CliftonLarsonAllen LLP, the same firm that has audited the Massachusetts House, Massachusetts Senate, and their joint account since at least fiscal year 2017.

The documents include some figures that could be gleaned from publicly available budget documents. The audit details funds appropriated to the House or joint accounts in the annual budget, the balance carried forward from the previous fiscal year, total available funds (the current year plus previous year’s carryover), annual expenditures, and any balance being carried forward to the next fiscal year. The audits do not include a breakdown of spending.

Between two accounts, the fiscal year 2021 budget included $43,047,500 for House operations. The House also had $25,604,135 left over from fiscal year 2020, giving it $68,651,635 in total resources available for fiscal year 2021, according to the House audit. The House spent $44,713,560 in fiscal year 2021 (which ran from July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021), leaving it with $23,938,069 to carry into fiscal year 2022.

The audit of the joint House-Senate account counts a budget appropriation of $9,767,085 plus another $6,534,265 left over from fiscal year 2020, giving the joint account $16,301,350 in total available resources in fiscal year 2021. Total expenditures of $6,081,833 that year left the joint account with $10,219,517 going into fiscal year 2022.

A spokesman for Senate President Karen Spilka’s office said Thursday, December 21 that the Massachusetts Senate’s audit for fiscal year 2021 had been posted online. That document, dated late October 2023, shows the Senate got an appropriation of $24,356,511 in fiscal year 2021, on top of $10,943,396 carried over from fiscal year 2020. That gave the Senate $35,299,907 in total available resources for fiscal year 2021 and the branch spent $22,091,922, the audit said. Going into fiscal year 2022, the Senate had $13,207,985 it could carry over.

State Auditor Diana DiZoglio has been trying to conduct her own audit of the Massachusetts Legislature, calling for a more wide-ranging review of “budgetary, hiring, spending, and procurement information, as well as information regarding acting and pending legislation, the process for appointing committees, the adoption and suspension of House and Senate rules, and the policies and procedures of the House and Senate.” Legislative leaders have strongly resisted DiZoglio’s efforts, and a ballot question on whether the auditor should have the power to audit the Legislature could go to voters in November 2024.


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