The new Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee took to the floor of the House to warn that local aid cuts may exceed the number put forward by Governor Deval Patrick. It has the making of a perfect storm, with local aid cuts of 7% or better, surging health care costs, and escalating pension obligations. With yesterday’s hearing on muni health care reform behind us the question is not, at this point, about cuts in local aid. They will be steep, and add to what we have experienced for the three years prior. The question is centered around reform, and pushing a lower cost structure for municipalities that will allow us to better manage these cuts.
I think that if the rules do not change then the Commonwealth should pick up the incremental costs of health care, (above the GIC benchmark for example) for localities statewide, since they would in effect be mandating the additional coverage. I am sure that mayors, managers and the unions could agree on that. I am not so sure about anyone else agreeing. The clip is from chairman Dempsey speaking against a Republican floor effort to set local aid amounts in advance of the House budget submission. The Republicans would have set those amounts at the level recommended by the Governor. Their attempt failed.