The Commonwealth of Massachusetts faces its deepest fiscal crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s. With this crisis, we also have a tremendous opportunity to permanently change the way state government operates and reform the current wasteful and inefficient system. We must seize this moment.
Fiscal integrity with no new taxes
In the face of a $3 billion budget deficit despite last year’s billion-dollar tax increase, the Romney budget is balanced:
Governor Romney’s $22.86 billion budget will boost spending by less than 1 percent over projected 2003 levels, the smallest increase proposed by any Governor since 1992.
Revitalize public service
Many aspects of public service in Massachusetts have not kept pace with the changes in our economy. We need to adopt common sense employment practices in order to achieve true reform in state government.
For example, our pension system, which is modeled after 1950-style corporate America, demands updating. Civil service, a 19th century hiring system, must be replaced with a more modern and professionalized human resources system. Managers who are unionized are caught in a perpetual conflict of interest with the union employees they are asked to supervise. Ironclad seniority means that performance plays a reduced role in career advancement. And our dynamic private sector is virtually prohibited from delivering services even when they could provide better quality at a lower cost.
State government’s outdated system prevents the Commonwealth’s talented workforce from reaching its full potential. The Romney budget:
Customer comes first
Our dynamic private sector illustrates the value of customer focus and government should follow their lead. A rigid approach is too often unresponsive to taxpayer needs. A confusing maze of agencies and forgettable acronyms cannot provide the best access. Duplication in services only wastes valuable resources.
Although we are a small state geographically, we enjoy a rich diversity from the urban bustle of Boston to the pristine Berkshires, from the Cape and Islands to the high-tech corridor between Routes 128 and 495.
The Romney budget reflects the unique regional character of our Commonwealth by defining seven different geographic regions to:
One-stop service delivery
The Internet introduced us to the “portal” concept: a single place to access information, conduct transactions and check on past actions. Information technology, along with substantial changes to “brick and mortar” offices, can make this an exciting reality for state government.
The Romney budget embraces this one-stop concept by:
Cut costs, improve quality
America’s success is testimony to the reality that, in a free economy, continuous quality improvement leads to lower costs. We see this trend clearly in our home computers, clothing, food and motor vehicles. It has helped make us the envy of the entire world.
The method of achieving this miracle, however, is not often discussed outside the business community. The private sector revolves around continuous improvement and reform, which often means frequent reorganization and new ways of doing things. Everyone who has worked in the private sector expects change. But in government, the expectation is that things will remain the same.
The Romney budget proposes more change to our state government than the Legislature has enacted in the previous 50 years. We are truly operating in the 21st century with a 19th century bureaucracy.
Instead of isolated agencies each with its own overhead structure, the Romney budget streamlines shared functions like:
Related government programs have been combined to provide better services:
In addition, public policy will be better coordinated through a reorganization of the Executive Branch, including the following new secretariats:
This budget proposal and accompanying legislation accomplishes many of these reforms. Others will be achieved through proposals to be filed this Spring:
Simple, flexible and user-friendly
Past budgets have been overwhelming in their complexity … for a reason. Complexity is the friend of special interests. An isolated line item appropriation is easily defended. A segregated fund is easily protected. Old-style budgets – filled with thousands of line items, funds, earmarks and obscure legal references – can be passed with few citizens understanding what their government is actually doing.
The taxpayers who fund this budget deserve much greater transparency. Budgets should be easy to understand. The structure should be simple. Managers should have the ability to make decisions in their respective areas of expertise without undue legislative micro-management. The average citizen should be able to quickly find out how tax dollars are being spent.
The Romney budget fundamentally alters the framework of the budget process by:
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