House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi said state aid to local cities and towns will be cut by up to 10 percent next year, a major drop-off that will likely cause layoffs and major cutbacks in municipalities across Massachusetts.The HUGE irony here is that it is the unions of North Adams that want to join the GIC, but it is the city administration that is preventing this. Most cities in the state would love to be in this position, but not North Adams. Why?
To lighten the blow, DiMasi is planning to propose legislation to eliminate a major union-backed provision that prevents municipalities from joining the state health insurance program without union approval.
Under current law, cities and town officials must earn the backing of 70 percent of local union members before they can join the state’s Group Insurance Commission. DiMasi argues that the provision has prevented municipalities from joining the state system, whose larger size provides more cost savings through bargaining power with insurance companies.
Collectively, cities and towns could save between $436 million and $64 million in fiscal year 2013, according to an estimate by the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation. But so far, only 17 municipalities and 19 school districts have joined out of the nearly 500 cities and towns and regional school districts that are eligible.