Fiscal Troubles Forecast for Massachusetts Cities and Towns

Explosive growth in pension, health care, and debt service spending is outpacing revenue in Massachusetts cities and towns. So says a new report from the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation.

The group’s president, Michael Widmer says the unaffordable obligations have already forced layoffs and will cut into spending on public safety and education.

Widmer supports legislative mandates to reform retiree health care benefits.

“We’re not suggesting that those benefits be taken away,” Widmer says. “Rather, we’re focusing on eligibility for example for future retirees.”

The report shows that  between fiscal 2007 and fiscal 2012, total municipal employment fell by 6 percent, or more than 15,500 full-time employees. Over the same period, municipal spending on health care and debt service both rose by about 20 percent. Pension spending spiked by 30 percent.