Yesterday's Boston Globe reported that the state faces a $2 billion shortfall next year, and that Governor Patrick expects to deal with it by cutting $1.5 billion and finding $500 million in unspecified "cost saving measures".

I hope that part of that cost-saving includes granting municipal leaders to authority to make changes to employee health care benefits, including moving employees to the state GIC. Independent researchers estimate this alone could save $100 million a year, and more in future years. At this time there is a very high barrier to make this type of change, as it requires 70% approval from each municipal union. The governor favors reducing that percentage to 50%, but would that be enough? Boston Mayor Tom Menino wants the authority to make the change unilaterally (without putting it to a union vote at all), and frankly that is closer to the reality the rest of us deal with - for those in the nonprofit or private sector, if our employer wants to make changes to our health care benefits, we do not get to vote on it.


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