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News and Features: Inquiries

State checkbook

BY: Jack Sullivan
Issue: Winter 2012


In December, state Treasurer Steven Gross­man followed through on his campaign promise to put the state’s checkbook on­line at www.mass.gov/opencheckbook. After some fits and starts, the site is up and running, with improvements expected in the future.

The content is not all that different from what’s available on some other web­sites, but the information is far more timely. It can be an eye-opening experience to see where taxpayer money goes. Through the first five months of the fiscal year, the state spent $278,446 on bottled water. Included in that figure is $132,000 paid to at least two bottled water companies who get their water from the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority.

Health care vendors are the biggest recipients of state money. In fact, nine of the top 10 vendors are health related, accounting for $2.6 billion that has been paid out since July 1. Most of the health-related vendors are state and local agencies and nonprofit health plans. The highest paid for-profit vendor is CVS, which has received $71.3 million since the start of the fiscal year.

Kingston road contractor P.A. Landers was placed on probation and barred from bidding on state work after the company pleaded guilty in 2007 to fraudulently overbilling the state for asphalt and stone deliveries. After returning to the state’s good graces, the company has been paid nearly $31 million since fiscal 2010.

The state sent nearly $31 million to other states for tolls owed by Massa­chu­setts drivers using EZ Pass transponders. The money is collected from a driver’s credit card by Massachusetts and then forwarded to the state seeking payment.

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