Governor’s Budget & Plan for Cities

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When it comes to the aspects of the Governor’s agenda that impact cities, the press has focused on two elements:

1) Cuts in local aid in the budget and,
2) The push to lower the union threshold in order to allow, or perhaps force, municipalities into the state’s Group Insurance Commission.

While those certainly are newsworthy, there are two smaller intiatives that move the Commonwealth in the right direction on two fronts:

A) local performance management and
B) regionalization.

Pioneer has been a vocal advocate for the state to be more aggressive in promoting these policy goals.

Our Middle Cities Initiative has worked with 14 municipalities to improve data collection, to drive accountability and transparency– in order that local officials and the public alike can make more informed decisions about resource allocation. Lean more here.

While Pioneer’s research has called for a more organized and coordinated state strategy to facilitate change at the local level– the “$300,000 for the development of a program to enhance performance management, accountability, and transparency for local governments” is a move in the right directions.

Pioneer has partnered with the Collins Center for Public Management at the University of Massachusetts Boston, and the Harvard Kennedy School Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston to provide technical assistance to many municipalities in the state on this very issue. It is our hope that this project can reach the Administration’s goal of developing “a set of common accountability and performance measures that can be adopted by all municipalities… to determine how to provide the necessary support and tools to municipalities, support including education, training, standardized software and reporting, and technical assistance to municipalities to participate in the program.”

Finally, if funded, the $9.7 million Regionalization and Efficiency Incentive Grant Program could help push some local communities, in a limited resource environment, to finally move towards regionalizing services in their area.

See some of Pioneer’s research on this issue here.

Let’s hope that the Administration can help to realize their goal of incentivizing “innovation among local governments to find new and more efficient ways to delivery local services.”

It should go without saying that these programs are not the comprehensive solutions that are needed for cities’ problems, but at least show a small commitment from the Administration towards these policy ends.