In the budget debate this week, the Senate adopted an amendment offered by Senator Tarr which sets in place a clear boundary on state liability for the Olympics:
SECTION 105A. Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, no agency as defined in section 14C of chapter 7 of the General Laws or other entity created by the general court shall expend any state funds, except for the purpose of analysis and due diligence, or incur any liability, indebtedness or obligation, by guaranty, indemnification agreement, bond undertaking or otherwise, for the purpose of procuring, hosting, aiding, facilitating, or remediating the effects of, hosting the Games of the XXXIII Olympiad in 2024 unless the general court enacts a special act authorizing the expenditure of state funds for such purposes following at least 1 public hearing conducted by the house and senate committees on ways and means acting individually or jointly. The committees may conduct more than 1 public hearing in geographically diverse locations within the commonwealth. Nothing in this section shall be interpreted to waive any other requirement for appropriation or approval in any law, rule or regulation.
The Boston 2024 group has said all along that they don’t want to use taxpayer funds or put the taxpayers at risk. However, many of us feel it is critical that we put in place clear legal protections so that we are not surprised. This amendment is a step in that direction, but it only applies to the state and it’s agencies. It does not address the possible liability of municipalities. The City of Boston needs to put its own clear protections in place.
If we tell the Olympics that they truly need to fund the project privately — that we won’t pick up their overruns — that will give us the best chance of getting a “sustainable” and financially responsible Olympics.