Where are those promised reforms?

( – promoted by Garrett)

As recently reported in the Cape Cod Times, Governor Deval Patrick stated that some $600 million in emergency cuts to the Budget were immediately needed.  Such measures he said could result in the elimination of 2,000 state jobs and unilateral budget cuts to public safety and other core services.  The Governor will also soon be asking lawmakers to grant him authority to make additional cuts, which will likely include significant reductions to the court system and local aid to cities and towns.

As someone who voted against the State Budget, stating at the time that is was disappointing that the solution to the fiscal crisis was to increase taxes on sales, meals, telecommunications, alcohol, satellite television, hotel stays, nursing home residents and fees at the Registry, I continue to wonder when the Governor and Legislature will embrace reform over taxation and cuts.  It is my view that when the Majority Party and the Governor passed our current Budget they failed to make many of the necessary difficult choices to reform State Government.  They simply raised taxes and crossed their fingers and hoped things would get better.

Rather than giving the Governor additional power to cut education, public safety and human service spending even further, I would suggest the Legislature and Governor put aside the usual political rhetoric regarding reform and embrace some real cost savings.  Below is a summary of over $1 billion in cost savings we should adopt now:

Implement a statewide wage and hiring freeze for non-essential government employees – Given the uncertainty of the economy and the reality of multi-billion dollar budget deficits, the Commonwealth is in no position to be hiring more people.  We should imposes a one-year moratorium on new government employees.  

Prohibit Benefits for Illegal Immigrants – Mirrored after legislation passed in both Colorado and Georgia, this measure would ensure that taxpayer funded benefits go only to those that are eligible to receive them.  We should demand that anyone attempting to receive taxpayer funded public benefits must first be verified by the Federal Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlement program “SAVE.”

Repeal the Pacheco Law – Since this anti-privatization measure was approved during the Weld Administration, the State has lost out on the opportunity to save hundreds of millions of dollars through the outsourcing of certain government programs and services. The law has effectively stifled state privatization efforts by keeping most work in-house, even when a private company could potentially deliver the same services more efficiently and at a lesser cost.  

Require Medicaid to enroll all participants in managed care plans – Currently, only 35 percent of MassHealth recipients are members of a Medicaid Managed Care Organization (MMCO), which provide incentives for managing illnesses before they become more acute or expensive to treat.  The State should require all MassHealth participants to enroll in managed care plans, which have been proven to cost less while delivering superior health care.  

Streamline the process for the sale of surplus land/allow private sponsorship of state facilities and assets – Streamlining the process for selling surplus state property by eliminating the need for legislative approval would ensure a faster, more efficient process for raising funds from unused and underutilized assets.  In addition, allowing private sponsorship of state facilities and assets presents another potentially lucrative opportunity to raise additional funding to pay for essential state programs and services.

A few other ideas to get the State’s Budget back in line include, eliminating the Lottery advertising account , reducing prescription medication waste and requiring agency reports to be distributed electronically.

Perhaps the Governor and Legislative leaders may not agree with all of these ideas, so let’s hear some of theirs, or is the solution once again to threaten cuts to education and public safety, while generating support for yet another round of tax increase?

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