House speaker says ‘no” to municipal cuts

From the Massachusetts Municipal Association –

November 20, 2014


On Thursday morning, less than 24 hours after Governor Deval Patrick filed legislation to impose a $25.5 million mid-year cut in Unrestricted General Government Aid, House Speaker Robert DeLeo issued a strong statement in opposition to the measure.

“Understanding the vital role cities and towns play in providing services and jobs, I will not support a reduction of unrestricted local aid,” said Speaker DeLeo.  “Local aid is integral to helping municipalities accurately assess and plan their budgets so they can contribute to the overall growth of the Commonwealth’s economy.”

The Speaker’s opposition to mid-year cuts to local aid will effectively kill the proposal for the remainder of the legislative session.  “This is very good news for communities across Massachusetts,” said MMA Executive Director Geoff Beckwith.  “We applaud and deeply appreciate the leadership of Speaker DeLeo and his colleagues in the Legislature for rejecting the Administration’s unwise and damaging proposal to slash unrestricted municipal aid.”

On Wednesday, November 19, the Governor announced his desire to close a $329 million state budget deficit by imposing over $65 million in mid-year cuts to cities and towns.  He used his statutory budget authority to reduce key municipal and education reimbursements and aid programs by $40.3 million, and filed legislation seeking a $25.5 million reduction in unrestricted local aid.  Speaker DeLeo’s opposition to the cut in unrestricted local aid will block that proposal, yet communities will still be hit with the $40.3 million reduction because the Governor Patrick can implement those cuts unilaterally without legislative approval.

The Governor’s $40.3 million in mid-year cuts to key municipal and education programs includes the following:

  • $18.7 million from regional school transportation, a 27% cut;
    • $7.1 million from the regionalization and efficiencies reserve, which will shelve most, if not all, of the Community Innovation Challenge Grant program;
    • $3.86 million from the Special Education Circuit Breaker program, a 1.5% cut;
    • $2.88 million from the Chapter 70 “Pothole” account, an 85% cut;
    • $2.24 million from vocational school transportation, a 100% cut;
    • $1.3 million from public school military mitigation grants, a 100% cut;
    • $1.2 million from charter school reimbursements, a 1.5% cut in a program that is already underfunded by $33 million;
    • $1.1 million from sewer rate relief funding, a 100% cut;
    • $1 million from extended learning time grants, a 6.8% cut;
    • $359 thousand from kindergarten expansion grants, a 1.5% cut;
    • $287 thousand from METCO, a 1.5% cut; and
    • $283 thousand from library aid, a 1.5% cut.

Every city, town and school district will be hit with one or more of these cuts.  In most cases, the cuts will feel deeper because the reductions are being implemented five months into the fiscal year.

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