If you missed the discussion of Voters Count on the Michael Graham show on 96.9 FM (WTKK), you can download it here:
Talk radio host Michael Graham is having me as a guest on his show this morning at 10:50 AM, 96.9 FM to talk about Voters Count. His listeners should love us!
Boston Herald: With Speaker DeLeo and Governor Patrick on board, maybe we'll see health care savings "before the next ice age"
Editorial in yesterday's Herald:
"House Speaker Robert DeLeo hasn’t gone as far as we’d like on the issue of health insurance for municipal workers but his willingness to take on the majority party’s natural constituency — organized labor —is a refreshing bit of progress...
"DeLeo last week told the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce that he’ll support a proposal similar to the governor’s, which sets a deadline for cities and towns to negotiate cost-saving health insurance deals with their unions. If the two sides can’t agree on a plan that delivers savings equivalent to joining the state’s lower-cost health insurance program (GIC), workers would be enrolled in that program automatically.
"That approach is, in our view, unnecessarily convoluted. City and town managers are seeking and frankly should have the authority to design health insurance plans without negotiating every last prescription co-payment with every last union, the same authority the GIC has. Such “plan design” authority is the stronger approach."
From Sunday Boston Globe: "The number of state retirees collecting pensions of at least $100,000 has climbed more than 20 percent in the past year, jumping from 145 to 176, with the top pensioner receiving more than $240,000."
We have compared vote histories and phone surveys to come up with 2 helpful charts laying out the reformer credentials of every legislator in the State House and Senate.
Find out who your legislator is here, and click here to find out how they have voted in the past.
If your legislator IS a reformer, contact them and thank them! We're all about the carrot not just the stick approach.
If you find your legislator is generally NOT a reformer, pick up the phone and let him or her know you are concerned about this and will be watching their future votes. In particular ask him/her to support the Mass Municipal Association proposal on plan design as that key issue is being debated right now.
And let us know what they say! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thought-provoking column in the Wall Street Journal by Stephen Goldsmith, deputy mayor of New York and former mayor of Indianapolis:
Across the country, the interests of organized labor, elected officials and taxpayers are colliding over wages, work rules and the astronomical costs of retiree pensions and health care. As important as these specific issues are to resolve, there is another, more fundamental problem causing so many Americans to lose faith in their government: It is not government unions per se but progressive government itself—long celebrated in Wisconsin, New York and elsewhere—that no longer produces progressive results."
Read the whole column here
House Speaker DeLeo calls for plan design in order "to do what's right for our children who attend public schools"
Promising statement from House Speaker Robert DeLeo on plan design yesterday: "In a speech to the greater Boston Chamber of Commerce...DeLeo said he intends to force cities and towns into the state's health insurance program, the Group Insurance Commission - a plan he suggested he favored in January - unless then can "meet or beat" savings under the state's plan. He said his hometown of Winthrop saved $800,000 by joining the state plan."
Click here to read the whole article.
Excellent op-ed in today's Boston Herald on the lack of spine shown by our elected officials in supposedly eliminating Evacuation Day and Bunker Hill Day as paid holidays... written by Voters Count's research director David Blaisdell. Click here to read it!
Interesting profile of New Jersey governor Chris Christie in a recent New York Times magazine cover story by their excellent political reporter Matt Bai. New Jersey's unfunded liability "has now passed the $100 billion mark."
Governor Christie, with the support of the Democratic-controlled legislature, last July passed their version of Proposition 2 1/2, though theirs is actually lower than ours at a mere 2%. The governor has also proposed 33 other measures including allowing localities to opt out of the civil-service system altogether, giving them more control over hiring and firing local officials; limiting cash payouts that retiring workers can take for their unused sick days, and changes to pensions including higher contributions, raising the age, and lowering benefits.
Bai writes, "The crux of Christie’s argument is that public-sector contracts have to reflect what has happened in the private sector, where guaranteed pensions and free health care are becoming relics. It’s not surprising that this stand has ingratiated Christie to conservatives in Washington; advocacy groups and activists on the right have carried out a long campaign to discredit the ever-shrinking labor movement in the private sector, and what Christie has done, essentially, is to blast his way into the final frontier, taking on the public-sector unions that have come to wield enormous political power. More surprising is how the governor’s proposals are finding sympathy from less-partisan budget experts, if only because they don’t see obvious alternatives. “I’ve tried to look at this objectively, and I just don’t know of any other option,” says Richard Keevey, who served as budget director for a Democratic governor, Jim Florio, and a Republican governor, Tom Kean. “You couldn’t tax your way out of this.”
Excellent column from Scot Lehigh last week on State Representative Dan Winslow's call for increased flexibility for managers without getting rid of collective bargaining altogether. "You can be in favor of good management and not be anti-worker... But managers have to be given the tools to manage well. So let’s go back to the classic topics of bargaining — wages, hours, and working conditions — and reserve to management the means of running the organization.’’