This today from the Massachusetts Municipal Association, with a good summary of the state budget issues –
LEGISLATIVE CONFERENCE COMMITTEE FINALIZING FISCAL 2019 STATE BUDGET – MILLIONS IN MUNICIPAL AND SCHOOL FUNDING AT STAKE
PLEASE CALL YOUR LEGISLATORS TODAY TO SUPPORT LOCAL AID FUNDING AND KEY MUNICIPAL ISSUES
June 7, 2018
Dear Osler Peterson,
Now that the House and Senate have each passed their own versions of next year’s fiscal 2019 state budget, the next step is for a conference committee to iron out the differences and present a balanced budget for adoption by July 1.
While both budgets would increase municipal and school aid, there are significant differences between the branches, especially in funding for essential K-12 education accounts. It is imperative that you contact your legislators today and ask them to support the full appropriations, and make municipal and education aid a top priority.
Earlier this morning, the MMA delivered a detailed letter to the conference committee emphasizing the key local aid accounts that need to be funded at the highest possible level. Please call your legislators today and ask them to support the highest possible funding amounts for these municipal and school aid programs.
The House and Senate budgets would both add to the municipal and school aid recommendations made by the governor in January, which is good news. When you talk with your local legislators, please thank them for making local aid a priority during the budget process this year, and ask that they contact conference committee members in support of the highest possible funding for municipal and school aid.
Millions of dollars are at stake: if the conference committee agrees on full funding by adopting the higher number for municipal and school aid accounts, this would return over $75 million more to cities and towns, compared to the funding that would result from adopting the lower number.
Here is a summary of the key priorities for cities and towns:
Unrestricted General Government Aid (UGGA)
The House and Senate both appropriated $1.099 billion for the Unrestricted General Government Aid (UGGA) account, an increase of $37.2 million over the fiscal 2018 level of funding. The 3.5 percent increase reflects the policy of increasing general municipal aid at the rate of growth in state tax collections reflected in the consensus tax forecast. This policy has been adopted by the Governor and the House and Senate since fiscal 2016, and is supported by the MMA. The good news is that the $37.2 million UGGA increase has already been agreed to by the House and Senate!
Chapter 70 School Aid and Local Contributions
The House funds the basic requirements of Chapter 70 education aid (7061-0008 and section 3), adopts provisions to continue to implement the recommendations of the Foundation Budget Review Commission, phases in target share funding for those communities where the local contribution exceeds the target share amount, and funds minimum aid at $30 per student. This would provide a Chapter 70 increase of $124.6M – which is significantly higher than the $103.6M increase in the governor’s budget proposal.
The Senate budget builds on the House approach by closing 100% of the target share gap and establishing an enhanced English language learner (ELL) foundation budget factor. These two changes would provide a Chapter 70 increase of $160.6M, or $36M more than the House. The MMA is supporting the Senate funding level.
Both the House and Senate would supplement Chapter 70 by providing $12.5 million to provide assistance to communities impacted by changes in how low-income students are counted. They do this in different accounts. What matters is that the final budget maintain the $12.5 million.
Special Education Circuit Breaker
Please ask your legislators to support the Senate’s full funding of the Special Education Circuit Breaker Program at $319.3 million, through which the state provides a measure of support for services provided to high-cost special education students. This is critically important.
Charter School Impact Mitigation Payments
Please ask your legislators to support the Senate appropriation of $100 million for Charter School Impact Mitigation Payments (7061-9010). This reflects an increase of $19.5 million above the current fiscal 2018 level of funding. This is a vital account for those communities impacted by charter schools.
Charter School Impact Analysis and Accountability
Please ask your legislators to support sections 61 and 62 in the Senate bill, which would bring a much-needed level of accountability related to state decisions to approve new and expanded charter schools that would include an assessment of the impact on local public schools.
Regional School District Student Transportation
Please ask your legislators to support the Senate appropriation of $68.9 million to reimburse regional school districts for a portion of the cost of transporting students.
McKinney-Vento Homeless Student Transportation
Please ask your legislators to support the House appropriation of $9.1 million for this account to reimburse municipalities and school districts for a portion of the cost of transporting homeless students as required under state and federal rules.
Payment in Lieu of Taxes on State-owned Land
Please support the Senate appropriation of $28.5 million to pay a portion of the payment-in-lieu-of taxes amount due to cities and towns to offset the property tax exemption for state-owned land. We support the additional $1.7 million set aside in the Senate appropriation language to ensure that Cherry Sheet PILOT payments next year are not reduced below the fiscal 2018 level due to the revaluation of state-owned land that takes effect next year.
Shannon Anti-Gang Grant Program
Please support the Senate level of funding of $8 million for the highly effective and valuable Shannon Anti-Gang Grant Program that has helped cities and towns respond to and suppress gang-related activities.
Reserve Fund for Municipal Improvements
Please support the House appropriation that would provide $2.8 million for the District Local Technical Assistance Fund (DLTA) that helps support local efforts to regionalize local government services. Please support the Senate appropriation that includes $2 million to support the Community Compact Cabinet program to facilitate the adoption of municipal best practices in cities and towns.
Community Preservation Act
Please support sections 45, 46, 47, 142, 143 and 196 of the Senate bill which would strengthen the Community Preservation Act (CPA) by updating the Registry of Deeds fee schedule to provide adequate revenue to restore the state match to an estimated 30 percent.
Municipal Police Training Fund
Please support sections 13, 14, and 70 in the Senate bill that would create a $2 surcharge on each rental car transaction in the Commonwealth to help fund an expanded police training program.
If you have any questions or need additional information, please contact MMA Legislative Director John Robertson at 617-426-7272 ext. 122 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you very much!