In The News: Municipal

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Massachusetts must act on retire health care reform

Jan 24 2013

By Michael J. Widmer, Ashland Tab

Building on the success of municipal health reform, the Legislature has an important opportunity in 2013 to address the issue of retiree health care liabilities that threaten to strangle the finances of cities and towns in Massachusetts.
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Drug testing creates conflict for local towns

Jan 20 2013

By Maria Papadopoulos, The Brockton Enterprise

“There’s a balance here and that’s public safety and taxpayer dollars,” said Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation. Widmer said he could not speak to the East Bridgewater case specifically.
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Editorial: Cheers & Jeers

Jan 18 2013

Cape Cod Times

"While most of the recommendations are positive, the commission's recommendation to prohibit municipalities from ever adjusting their share of premium contributions once an employee retires is a major step backward," said Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, in an email. "Such a change would erode the most important existing power that municipalities have for controlling retiree health care costs and create a huge roadblock to achieving greater savings."
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Editorial: State retiree health system needs major reforms

Jan 16 2013

The Boston Globe

The administration estimates its plan would cut the state and municipal unfunded liability for retiree health care from $40 billion to about half that. However, the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation puts the state and local liability at about $47 billion, and estimates that the proposed changes would trim it by only about $8 billion.
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Shocking! In Mass., they’re fixing a mess

Jan 10 2013

By Margery Egan, The Boston Herald

Even Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation president Michael Widmer, a critic of public spending, seemed stunned. “This was a superb effort” by the task force and Labor Secretary Joanne Goldstein, Widmer said.

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Free cash up, taxes down in Holbrook

Dec 23 2012

By Jennette Barnes, The Boston Globe

Free cash is also a fleeting number, according to Carolyn Ryan, a policy analyst for the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, a public policy group. Often, free cash is “like a snapshot of a bank account on one day,” she said, and it may soon be reduced if a community makes a delayed payment on debt or a pension obligation.
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Town braces for state aid cuts

Dec 14 2012

North Andover Citizen

Roughly speaking, Widmer said, the state budget has been under pressure through three years associated with the recent recession and the last two years which have featured modest economic growth, with rainy day fund and federal stimulus law funds driven into the budget and coupled with major spending cuts. "It is the longest period of fiscal pressures of this magnitude," Widmer said. "The economic recovery has been so weak both nationally and here that we haven’t had much in the way of revenues. That’s the sad reality. This is now the fifth year."
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Reforms to help solve our fiscal problems

Dec 7 2012

By Scot Lehigh, The Boston Globe

“Federal deficit reduction, a more slowly growing national economy, an aging workforce, and several other factors will produce a new permanent reality of tight state finances even in good economic times,” says Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation.
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Taxpayer advocate says city health insurance deal not so sweet

Oct 28 2012

By Alex Bloom, The Enterprise

“It’s clearly a step in the right direction and the savings are meaningful,” Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, said of the deal Mayor Linda Balzotti signed Thursday with the unions. “But if city officials had adopted the municipal health law, they certainly could’ve saved more.”
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Employee retirement costs crippling cities

Oct 1 2012

By Grant Welker, Sentinel and Enterprise

Though these benefits more than double the size of pension liabilities in most of the state's largest cities, according to the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, they haven't been in the news as much or as debated as pensions. That's because they aren't as popular a benefit in other parts of the country, and because OPEB is just now getting to the point of becoming a critical issue as pensions were 20 years ago, said Carolyn Ryan, a policy analyst with the foundation.
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