The Governor last week, in light of poor tax collection data, has been forced to once again downgrade state revenue estimates, calling for a $600 million dollar budget reduction in order to achieve balance at the lower number. He will ask for additional 9-C authority, and has warned that wage concessions will be needed from state unions in order to avoid large layoffs.
The Globe story also detailed the potential for hikes in employee costs within the State G.I.C. health care program. From the Globe:
Besides layoffs and furloughs, employees could feel the brunt of the budget crisis in other ways. The head of the state’s Group Insurance Commission, which oversees employee health benefits, said yesterday the agency will consider raising copayments for doctor’s visits, deductibles, or premiums.
“A person would have to be naive not to realize we all have to take a look at our budgets and see what we might have to do,’’ said Dolores Mitchell, the commission’s executive director, who sent a letter to the commissioners this week detailing possible changes. “When the Commonwealth is facing this kind of budget crunch, everything is on the table.’’
Interesting point by Dolores Mitchell, who is absolutely right. You would have to be naive not to realize that everything is on the table. There must be plenty of naive people out in Boston however, because cities and towns are currently not able to look at such actions due to state law. As the budget noose tightens on cities and towns real reforms are indeed needed, including health care and pension reform right at the top of the list. Senator Richard Tisei, Republican Leader, was critical of the Administration.
Senate Minority Leader Richard Tisei said the administration has taken way too long to confront the state’s worsening budget crisis.
“Basic things like a hiring freeze or a wage freeze, or repeal of the antiprivatizing laws – those would save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars,’’ Tisei said. “We’re always behind the eight ball on the budget crisis and can’t get ahead of it. It’s clear from listening to the governor that not only do we have a revenue problem, but we have a management problem in the state.’’
My own thought has been that for two years running the State has consistently over estimated revenue in its budget. No question that it is an inexact science, but there is really no reason for repeatedly missing the mark. The estimates need to be in line with the most conservative estimates, and pain imposed at the BEGINING of fiscal cycles, where proper planning can be done. The Commonwealth has missed the mark on this, and missed it quite badly.