Dem’s Budget Proposes 20% Cut To Watchdog Agency

As part of an effort to close a projected $930 million hole in the fiscal year 2017 budget (which starts July 1)–a hole that represents approximately 5% of the state’s $19.9 billion annual budget–state Democrats yesterday proposed a budget that would cut the Freedom of Information Commission’s budget by nearly 20%. 

All state agencies, and the constituents they serve, will necessarily feel the pain of our state’s fiscal crisis.  But a 20% cut to the FOIC’s budget is grossly disproportionate.  The FOIC is a 15 person agency.  It has a statutory mandate to resolve all Freedom of Information Act complaints within one year after they are filed.  It struggles to meet that mandate now.  A 20% cut in its budget will require it to lay off nearly a third of its staff.  Again, the FOIC is not immune from the budget axe, but a 20% cut in a 15 person agency is far out of proportion to a 5% overall state budget deficit.

Here are the numbers:

The budget the General Assembly passed last June allocated $1,735,450 to the FOIC.  (See PA 15-244, p. 4 of 348).  Yesterday’s budget proposal (p. 12 of 18) allocates $1,395,928 to the agency, a cut of $339,552 or 19.6%.  The proposal specifically calls for the elimination of the agency’s Public Education Officer, but an additional 2-3 staff positions would need to be eliminated to achieve the $339,552 cut.

The FOIC serves a critical watchdog function for state government.  While it should not be insulated from the state’s budget crisis, a 20% cut suggests that legislators may be trying to do more than just close a 5% deficit in the 2017 fiscal year budget.  Castrating the watchdog agencies is the antithesis of good government, even if difficult budget times.


One thought on “Dem’s Budget Proposes 20% Cut To Watchdog Agency

  1. Goes right along with S.B..252 which was transformed from a bill to strengthen post-election audits, to now propose a 50% cut. Passed by the Senate. Hopefully the House will stop it. As it stands this would save municipalities across the state at most $15,000 more a year. For more see


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