Over the past month, the governor signed a budget that cut municipal property tax relief funding by about $400 million, and a new 2 percent cap on future property tax increases became law.
But true tax reform is not done until municipalities have the means to keep expenses down. Now the Legislature and administration must make it their top priority to provide the promised "tool kit" of management reform and relief from state mandates. Up against a hard 2 percent cap with an empty tool kit, local budget makers will not be able to control costs.
If the Legislature wants to know where to start, we'd suggest arbitration reform.
Binding interest arbitration is a state-mandated process for settling collective bargaining disputes between local governments and police and fire employee unions.
When a town or other public employer can't reach a contract agreement with a union representing civilian workers, it can impose its final offer. But in an impasse with a police or fire union, a third-party arbitrator is called in to decide the terms of the new contract.