The Missing Tools – Why Car and Property Taxes are Going Up in Too Many Cities and Towns
In an e-blast yesterday, the John Robitaille campaign helpfully supplied the list for which I have been hunting since the end of the last G.A. session: all of the local budget control tools which the General Assembly refused to supply to cities and towns. (One item only from the list made it into law: a statewide school bus system.)
• Establish a Statewide School Food Services Program
• Establish a Statewide School Health, Dental Insurance
• Establish a Statewide Purchasing Systems
• Establish a Statewide School Transportation System
• Suspend the Caroulo Act When Aid is Reduced
• Repeal the Requirement that School Nurses be Certified Teachers
• Make Changes to Teacher Layoff Procedures
• Require Posting of Collective Bargaining Agreements
• Strengthen RIDE authority to suspend collective bargaining and intervene, and to evaluate teachers
• Restore management rights to school committees
• Base Police and Fire arbitration decisions on last best offer
• Modify the scope and criteria of binding arbitration for police and fire
• Remove minimum manning from collective bargaining/arbitration
• Require 25% health insurance cost sharing for municipal employees
• Make comprehensive changes to municipal pension and disability programs
• Limit injured on duty compensation for public safety workers
• Impose requirements for collective bargaining agreements to which the State is a party
Robitaille correctly noted that
Passage of these articles would reduce costs, restore management rights and make up for any lost revenue resulting from the elimination of the car excise tax.
The refusal to furnish these tools, of course, added legislative insult to the budgetary injury of the reduction of state aid in the form of car tax revenue. Platitudes by House leadership that municipalities “do business differently” and “be lean” ring hollow in the wilful absence of the means to accomplish this.
As for why this happened, it’s difficult to argue with Robitaille’s conclusion.
The only explanation for inaction is that those interests who have a stake in keeping things the way they are won out over the taxpayers and fiscal responsibility.