MMA on Gov’s budget


GOV. BAKER FILES $45.6 BILLION FY 2022 SPENDING PLAN

• $39.5M INCREASE IN UNRESTRICTED MUNICIPAL AID (3.5%)

• GOV’S CH. 70 PLAN WOULD INCREASE FY 2022 SCHOOL AID BY $197.7M (3.7%)

• CHARTER SCHOOL & SPECIAL ED REIMBURSEMENTS INCREASE

• MIXED RESULTS FOR OTHER MUNICIPAL AND SCHOOL ACCOUNTS

 

January 27, 2021

Today at noon, Gov. Charlie Baker submitted a $45.6 billion fiscal 2022 state budget plan with the Legislature, proposing to reduce overall state expenditures by almost 1 percent next year as the Administration plans a sustainable recovery from the fiscal and service delivery disruptions caused by the ongoing coronavirus public health emergency and the related economic recession. Similar to the recently finalized fiscal 2021 budget, the Governor’s spending plan for next year relies on temporary and one-time revenues, including emergency federal funds related to the pandemic and up to $1.6 billion from the state’s Stabilization Fund.

UNRESTRICTED MUNICIPAL AID INCREASED BY $31.6 MILLION

As Gov. Baker pledged to local officials at the beginning of his administration, his budget includes a $39.5 million increase in Unrestricted General Government Aid, tracking the expected 3.5% increase in state tax revenues. Implementing this state-local revenue sharing framework is good news in a very challenging time for state and local finances.

Click here to see the Division of Local Services preliminary fiscal 2021 Cherry Sheet aid amounts for your community

OVERALL CHAPTER 70 SCHOOL AID WOULD GO UP BY $197.7 MILLION, A 3.7% INCREASE – ALTHOUGH A LARGE NUMBER OF DISTRICTS ARE EXPECTED TO REMAIN AT MINIMUM AID ONLY

The Governor’s budget recommendation re-starts implementation of the funding schedules in the 2019 Student Opportunity Act (SOA) that were delayed last year after the coronavirus recession upset the original first year funding plan.

Fulfilling the commitments in the new Student Opportunity Act, the Governor’s fiscal 2022 budget submission would bring Chapter 70 school aid up to $5.48 billion, a $197.7 million increase in school aid. This would fund the first year of the 7-year plan to add $1.5 billion in new state funding for K-12 education. The majority of the funds would implement the improvements to the foundation budget, adding weight for low-income students, English Language Learners, special education costs, and school employee health benefits. While this is important progress, an initial look at the budget indicates that a large percentage of cities, towns and school districts would remain minimum-aid-only, and receive the minimum $30 per-student increase in the Act. The MMA will continue to strongly advocate for significantly higher minimum aid throughout the budget process.

The Governor’s Chapter 70 recommendation would make a significant change in how cities and towns can meet their required local contributions for fiscal 2022. Municipalities may use up to 75% of the total grant awarded to the local school district through the Elementary and Secondary Education Emergency Relief (ESSER) program enacted by Congress last month (also known as ESSER II) to fund a part of the increase in its local contribution requirement under Chapter 70, but not more than the increase in required local contribution in FY2022 relative to FY2021. This is a new temporary provision that is explained in the narrative and slides on the DESE school finance website provided below.

Click here to see DESE’s calculation of fiscal 2022 Chapter 70 aid and Net School Spending requirements for your city, town, or regional school district, based on the Governor’s proposed budget and legislation.

This landing page will also include the preliminary fiscal 2022 charter school assessments and reimbursements.

CHARTER SCHOOL REIMBURSEMENTS WOULD INCREASE TO $143.5M – CHARTER FUNDING REMAINS A SERIOUS PROBLEM TO BE SOLVED

The Governor’s budget would increase the charter school reimbursement account up to $143.5 million, intended to meet the commitment in the Student Opportunity Act to fund 75% of the state’s 100-60-40 statutory obligation to mitigate Chapter 70 losses to charter schools.

The Student Opportunity Act pledges to phase in full funding of the statutory reimbursement formula over three years, and while this plan may meet that requirement, it would not fix the serious flaws in the charter school finance system. Charter schools will continue to divert a high percentage of Chapter 70 funds away from many municipally operated school districts, and place greater strain on the districts that serve the vast majority of public school children. Major problems will continue unless a true resolution of the charter school funding problem is achieved, a top MMA priority.

SPECIAL EDUCATION CIRCUIT BREAKER INCREASED TO $367.7M

The Governor’s budget would add $22.5 million to fund the Special Education Circuit Breaker program at $367.7 million, an increase of 6.5%. The Student Opportunity Act expanded the special education circuit breaker by including out-of-district transportation, an important enhancement for cities and towns.

REGIONAL SCHOOL TRANSPORTATION REIMBURSEMENTS REDUCED

Gov. Baker’s budget submission would reduce funding for regional transportation reimbursements from $82.2 million this year to $75.9 million. This will be a hardship for virtually all communities in regional districts. Reimbursements for transportation of out-of-district vocational students remains significantly underfunded at $250K. Increasing these accounts is a priority for cities and towns and the MMA.

McKINNEY-VENTO REIMBURSEMENTS REDUCED

The Governor’s budget would reduce reimbursements for the transportation of homeless students from $13.5 million this year to $11.1 million in fiscal 2022. The impact of this funding level will vary from community-to-community depending on the number of homeless families that remain sheltered in local hotels and motels. The Administration has been successful in reducing the number of homeless students who are dislocated from their original district, but those communities that continue to provide transportation to many students may continue to see shortfalls.

PAYMENTS-IN-LIEU-OF-TAXES (PILOT) LEVEL FUNDED

The Governor’s budget would level fund PILOT payments at $31 million, which would be a significant hardship for many smaller, rural communities with large amounts of state-owned land. This is a key account due to the major impact that PILOT payments have on budgets in very small communities.

Please contact your legislators today and ask them to support the $39.5M increase in municipal aid and the $197.7M increase in Chapter 70 aid.

Please ask your legislators to address the serious flaws in charter school funding, increase minimum Ch. 70 aid to $100 per student, and increase funding for school transportation, PILOT payments, and ensure full funding for the Special Education Circuit Breaker

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