By Andy Metzger
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
STATE HOUSE — Following reports that the Patrick administration salted away travel money in off-budget trust funds, Senate President Stanley Rosenberg said Monday the state should have clear policies on international trade missions.
“Many states in order to improve their economies seek foreign trade. Many states have therefore set policies and ground rules for engaging in international travel on behalf of their state’s economy,” Rosenberg said after hosting the governor and House speaker for a meeting in his office. “I think we need a set of policies in Massachusetts that are transparent and clear that we can then follow so that our government people and our business people traveling with our government people can do so with hopefully with public support.”
The Boston Herald last week reported that the Massachusetts Port Authority and the Massachusetts Technology Council along with other agencies contributed as much as $37 million to unidentified trust funds to pay for travel and tourism advertising.
“Anything we do that would involve the trusts at all as far as a money transfer would be something that we would propose as part of a transparent budget process, and we would want the House and the Senate to sign off on it,” Gov. Charlie Baker told reporters. After Baker reiterated that point, Rosenberg said, “That makes sense to me.”
Speaker Robert DeLeo has expressed interest in learning more about the use of trusts, and House Post Audit and Oversight Chair Rep. David Linsky has opened a formal probe.
Rosenberg said the Senate would be willing to lend a hand.
“We also want to make sure we’re not duplicating efforts,” Rosenberg said. He said, “We’ll chat about it internally, but I’m happy that the speaker launched an effort – and we’ll have discussions about whether we need more shoulders at the wheel.”
Former Gov. Deval Patrick traveled to Hong Kong, Israel, Panama and elsewhere, bringing along business executives from Massachusetts and meeting with government and business officials in the countries he visited.