With revenue in decline, the Massachusetts state government has been forced to make substantial cuts to programs and services, including local aid, public safety, health care, and services for the homeless and those with disabilities.
To mitigate the impact of these cuts, the Legislature has been looking for ways to make government operate more efficiently. It began this spring with overhauls of our pension and transportation systems to eliminate waste and streamline services.
More recently, the Massachusetts State Senate took a significant step in reforming our criminal justice systems, including reforms to the Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) system and sentencing guidelines for non-violent criminal offenders. These reforms will help reduce crime and recidivism rates while lowering criminal justice costs.
But these reforms are just the beginning; there are many more proposals on the table for ways we can improve our state government.
As the Senate chair of the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government, I’ve been focused this year on putting together a “Municipal Relief” package to reduce costs for towns and cities. Included in this legislation will be measures to make intermunicipal agreements easier to enter into, to allow for joint purchasing agreements between communities, to reduce costly state mandates, and to encourage regionalization of services, such as emergency dispatch services, public health departments, or public school districts.
We also need to come up with a solution for the rising health care costs many municipalities face, whether that’s finding a way for more towns and cities to join the state General Insurance Commission, or other health care reforms.
In the coming months, my colleagues and I will be continuing to look for ways to cut costs in government while maintaining or improving service delivery. Your ideas are always welcome – please contact me at 617-722-1120 or James.Eldridge@state.ma.us any time with your thoughts.