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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Hammer and Machete

Now we know what spending political capital looks like.

Deval Patrick is spending a large chunk of the currency he gained in November by telling municipal unions that they either quickly come prepared to talk about paying more for the own health care -- or have the deed done for them.

And oh yeah, we're still going to cut the heck out of local aid for anything other than schools and roads. Which means you may be lucky to have a job, let along health insurance.

The grim message delivered at the Massachusetts Municipal Association's annual convention probably went over as well as the snow that ate a huge chunk of local revenue to remove.

But the move was necessary, given what Patrick rightly categorized as the "veto" local unions have held over the previously voluntarily effort to shift workers into the Group Insurance Commission programs that mean higher premiums and co-pays for employees and lower overall costs for cities and towns.

Savings those communities can they funnel back into police, fire and trash and snow removal services facing new and steep cuts.

There is about to be a lot of unpleasant substances hitting the fan as the slow recovery inches along and the Republican House in Washington rules that stimulus is bad. Municipal employees and the services they provide are ultimately always the target for savings, because that's where the vast majority of the taxes we pay for go.

But there are no choices left and union leaders are going to have to make the toughest one of all, something they have successfully avoided for years: are their members going to pay higher health care costs? Or are they going to have jobs?

We're all better off if the hard-working men and women continue to patrol the streets and pick up the trash. Let's hope their leaders do the right thing.

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Blogger Readwriteblue said...

I have to give Gov. Patrick credit for coming to grips with the budget crisis. Sure he might have taken some of the steps earlier but the past is the past. Today he is acting like the executive that our Commonwealth needs. If he continues on this path he may be pleasantly surprised with the support he receives from us “seditious” Tea Party people.

January 22, 2011 12:28 PM  
Blogger Daniel said...

Do the "majority of our taxes" really go to pay for municipal employees? I would have thought that the majority goes to national defense.

January 22, 2011 1:57 PM  
Blogger Outraged Liberal said...

Daniel, in this post I was referring to state tax dollars and spending. Whether teachers, pubic safety or public works employees, I'd venture the bulk of the spending goes to salary and benefits for those who provide the services.

January 23, 2011 6:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

O.L., I believe the vast majority of expenditures at the local level goes to salaries and benefits. Munis will get revenue from all kinds of sources, including local aid of course. Whether the "majority of state tax revenue" goes to salaries is harder to say. Non-personnel state expenditures include things like Medicaid, other human services programs, bond repayments,and many other expensive things that are not personnel. Maybe you need to tighten your language a little.

January 23, 2011 5:49 PM  

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