Municipal Increases Are Mainly Pay and Benefits
This story on the likely decreases in state aid to municipalities appears to break apart two categories of spending that are very closely related (emphasis added):
Indeed, the numbers suggest that municipalities have largely avoided the budget cuts that swept across state government in recent years, according to a report to be released this week by the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council.
Since 2004, “the increase in local government expenditures has outpaced the growth in the state general fund budget, [the consumer price index], and personal income in almost every year,” the report says. “The majority of this expenditure growth has been to support education spending, which accounts for the majority of local spending; however, spending on employee benefits is the second-fastest increasing component of municipal budgets.”
In point of fact, most of the increase in education spending has gone toward employee pay and benefits. Treating education as its own all-inclusive category blurs the story. And that story relates to a point made later in the article:
The governor has introduced legislation to eliminate most of the mandates. But the Democrat-controlled Assembly has been reluctant to support the Republican governor’s initiatives, most of which are opposed by organized labor.
Labor has the RI system structured so well in its favor, that there isn’t much by way of reform that won’t disrupt its schemes to some degree. Yet, they must be disrupted, and both union members and elected representatives must soften their opposition.