Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Rising health costs present challenge for budget writers

March 29, 2017

As legislative budget committees wrap up hearings on the governor’s $40.5 billion state revenue and spending recommendation for next year and release spending plans of their own, financing the state’s health insurance obligations remains a growing problem with no easy solutions.
The governor’s budget bill for fiscal 2018, filed in January, proposes $16.4 billion for the MassHealth (Medicaid) program funded from state revenues and federal reimbursements. This would represent roughly 40 percent of the state budget and an increase of nearly $1 billion over the expected level of spending for this year. It also reflects continued growth in enrollment in MassHealth programs that could approach 2 million participants next year.
The budget also proposes $1.6 billion to cover the cost of health insurance for state employees.
The governor’s bill includes a number of contentious health care cost containment provisions and health insurance-related revenues that are important to balancing the budget plan for next year without cuts in other areas or new revenues. This includes limits on coverage, caps on charges, and a fee on employers that do not provide health insurance or have low participation rates. The fee would provide an estimated $300 million in new revenue next year, according to the administration.
A hearing on education and municipal budget items for fiscal 2018 was held today in Amherst, where a panel of municipal officials provided testimony to a joint meeting of the House and Senate Ways and Means committees. The MMA panel was led by Brookline Town Administrator and MMA President Mel Kleckner and Amherst Select Board Chair Alisa Brewer. The panel included Greenfield Mayor William Martin and Buckland Town Administrator Andrea Llamas.
The testimony focused on municipal priorities based on the budget and finance resolution approved by city and town leaders at the MMA’s Annual Business Meeting in January. Key priorities in the MMA’s written testimony are the increase in general municipal aid under the governor’s revenue-sharing plan and higher levels of school aid than what was recommended by the governor.
The MMA asked the Legislature to move more quickly than the governor has proposed on the recommendations of the Foundation Budget Review Commission to update the Chapter 70 school finance law to fully fund the account to mitigate the fiscal impact of charter schools on local public schools and to improve funding for other accounts.
The House Ways and Means Committee is expected to release its take on a state budget bill on April 12, with the House approving a plan by the end of the month. The Senate is expected to approve its budget bill by the end of May. The two branches will then reconcile the differences in the two bills, with the goal of getting a final budget bill enacted and sent to the governor in time for the July 1 start of the fiscal year.
oops a daisy, as a Town resident mentioned at the selectmen meeting on Monday of this week, what good does it do to have Town by-laws and to spend money on getting them codified if no one follows them, the resident was apparently chastised by selectmen Julie Richards. Selectmen Richards seemed to follow up grilling fellow selectmen Doug Morrison with this action. If you get a chance to watch the movie, you can probably see this for yourselves.

Good Day:

Please remember that any capital item being put in front of Town Meeting for a vote must be submitted to the CIC  for review before the TM vote.  It does not matter what the source of funding is.

The below items are (will be) somewhere on the warrant or are being funded through the TWLP PILOT. 

TH Mini-Split; Conf/Accounting, Misc. *
Temp Center Fire/EMS - Roof Rplcmnt*
Senior Center Siding*
Dump Body - 1984 Mack 10 Wheel
S.C.B.A replacement tanks**
John Deere Tractor-X710**
2017 Ford Police Interceptor Utility***

At a quick review of the FY ’18 CIP memorandum, the items in yellow do not look  like they were submitted to the CIC.  In ADDITION it looks like the $12k for file cabinets (Assessors) and the Pleasant Street Pump Station still need to be submitted for review.

You may find the forms that you need if you follow this link.

I am asking you all to review your original submissions (Police it appears you only asked for one cruiser in FY ’18 so if you are looking for a 2nd cruiser in the fall you may want to follow-up) and make sure to submit follow-up requests no later than April 10 that we might be fully through the process by the time of Town Meeting.

Many Thanks

Carter Terenzini
Interim Town Administrator
Town of Templeton
160 Patriots Road
East Templeton, MA 01438
(978) 894-2753

posted by Jeff Bennett