The Massachusetts Senate has issued its budget recommendations, which this year are lower that the House numbers (usually they are higher from my memory). Unfortunately for Medfield, state revenue sharing with cities and towns continues on a downward trajectory, so that more of municipal costs msut be paid for off our property taxes. This alert this afternoon from the Massachusetts Municipal Association with its summary –
SENATE BUDGET COMMITTEE FILES $41.4 B FY19 STATE BUDGET THAT ADDS MUNICIPAL AND SCHOOL AID
• INCLUDES THE FULL $37M INCREASE IN UNRESTRICTED MUNICIPAL AID (UGGA)
• INCREASES CHAPTER 70 BY $148M TO FUND MINIMUM AID AT $30 PER STUDENT
• ADDS $38M FOR SPECIAL EDUCATION CIRCUIT BREAKER
• ADDS $20M FOR CHARTER SCHOOL IMPACT PAYMENTS
• ADDS $1.7 MILLION FOR PILOT PAYMENTS TO ENSURE NO FY19 AID LOSS
May 10, 2018
Dear Osler Peterson,
Earlier today, the Senate Ways & Means Committee reported out a $41.4 billion FY19 state budget plan to increase overall state expenditures by 3 percent. The SW&M plan is $61 million more than the budget filed by the Governor in January and $97 million less than the budget voted by the House last month. The full Senate will debate the FY19 spending plan starting May 22.
S. 4, the S W&M budget bill, provides significant progress on many important local priorities, including the full $37 million increase in Unrestricted General Government Aid that the Governor proposed and cities and towns are counting on. The SW&M budget would increase funding for other major aid programs by adding $38 million for the Special Education Circuit Breaker, adding $20 million for charter school impact mitigation payments, adding $1 million to Regional School Transportation, and increasing Chapter 70 aid by $148 million more than the FY18 level.
$37.2 MILLION INCREASE IN UNRESTRICTED MUNICIPAL AID
In a continuing good news story for cities and towns, the SW&M budget plan would provide $1.1 billion for UGGA, a $37.2 million increase over current funding – the same increase proposed by Governor Baker and voted by the House. The $37.2 million would increase UGGA funding by 3.5 percent, which matches the projected growth in state tax collections next year. Every city and town would see their UGGA funding increase by 3.5 percent.
SW&M BUDGET BUILDS ON PROGRESS IN HOUSE BUDGET, WITH $23.5M MORE FOR CHAPTER 70 ($44.1M MORE THAN GOV’S BUDGET), MINIMUM AID WOULD MATCH HOUSE’S $30 PER STUDENT
The Senate budget committee is proposing to increase Chapter 70 education aid by $147.7 million above current fiscal 2018 levels. This is $44.1 million higher than the increase in the Governor’s recommendation, and $23.5 million more than the budget passed by the House in April), with a provision that every city, town and school district receive an increase of at least $30 per student (compared to the $20-per-student amount in the Governor’s budget). The SW&M budget would continue to implement the target share provisions enacted in 2006 and would do so on a more accelerated schedule than proposed by the Governor and voted by the House. Further, the SW&M proposal would build on formula changes proposed by Governor and voted by the House to start addressing shortfalls in the foundation budget framework, by increasing the cost factors for school employee health benefits and for English Language Learners (ELL).
Please ask your Legislators to support a funding increase for Chapter 70 school aid that ensures that all schools receive a suitable and appropriate increase in fiscal 2019, which the MMA targets at $100 per student. The MMA also strongly supports implementation of all of the recommendations of the Foundation Budget Review Commission to update the Chapter 70 “foundation budget” minimum spending standards for special education and employee health insurance, and to add to the spending standard a measure of recognition for the cost of services for low-income, English Language Learner (ELL) and other students who would benefit from more intensive services. The Commission recommended phasing in the changes over a four-year period, a position the MMA supports as well. Increasing minimum aid and fixing the inadequacies in the foundation formula are essential.
$37.7 MILLION INCREASE FOR SPECIAL EDUCATION CIRCUIT BREAKER
In S. 4, Senate leaders have made clear that they support increased funding for the Special Education Circuit Breaker program with the intent to reach full funding next year. The SW&M plan would provide $318.9 million, a $27.7 million increase above the Governor’s proposed FY19 level of $291.1 million, and $37.7 million more than the $281.2 million FY18 level. This is a vital program that every city, town and school district relies on to fund state-mandated services.
ADDS $1 MILLION TO REGIONAL SCHOOL TRANSPORTATION
The Senate Ways and Means Committee budget would add $1 million to bring regional transportation reimbursements up to $62.5 million. The MMA will work to continue building on this increase to get to full funding.
CHARTER SCHOOL REIMBURSEMENTS WOULD BE FUNDED AT $100 MILLION
The SW&M budget would provide $100 million to cover charter school impact mitigation payments, compared to the Governor’s recommendation to level fund the program at $80.5 million and the House plan to increase funding to $90 million. While the SW&M increase is certainly welcome and appreciated, both legislative proposals remain below the amount necessary to fully fund the statutory formula that was originally established to offset a portion of the funding that communities are required to transfer to charter schools. The FY18 funding level is currently $73.4 million below what is necessary to fund the reimbursement formula that is written into state law. An expanding shortfall would lead to the continued and growing diversion of Chapter 70 funds away from municipally operated school districts, and place greater strain on the districts that serve 96 percent of public school children. Solving the charter school funding problem must be a major priority during the budget debate.
PAYMENTS-IN-LIEU-OF-TAXES (PILOT), LIBRARY AID ACCOUNTS, METCO, AND SHANNON ANTI-GANG GRANTS
The Senate budget committee’s proposal would increase PILOT payments by $1.7 million to ensure that no city or town loses PILOT aid next year, add $540,000 to library grant programs, add $500,000 to METCO, and level fund McKinney-Vento reimbursements at $8.1 million.The SW&M budget would level fund Shannon Anti-Gang Grants at $6 million.
Please Call Your Senator Today to Thank Them for the Local Aid Investments in the Senate Ways and Means Committee Budget – Which Increases Direct Municipal and School Aid Accounts by More Than the Governor’s Budget
Please Explain How the Senate Ways and Means Budget Impacts Your Community, and Ask Your Senators to Build on this Progress During Budget Debate in the Senate