MMA on the state budget – more should be due towns

From the Massachusetts Municipal Association this afternoon –

Please Urge Your Legislators to Support Key Local Government Priorities for Fiscal Year 2023  

Please Call Your Representatives and Senators Today and Ask Them To:  

• Increase UGGA by 7.3%, not 2.7%
• Increase Chapter 70 Aid Minimum Aid to $100/student
• Fully Fund School Transportation Accounts
• Fully Fund PILOT
• Pass a Multi-year $300M Chapter 90 Bond Bill  

Increase Unrestricted General Government Aid (UGGA) by 7.3%

Please ask your legislators to provide a strong commitment to revenue sharing by increasing Unrestricted General Government Aid (UGGA) by 7.3%, or $85.3 million, to bring the account up to $1.253 billion in FY23. State tax collections in FY23 are projected to grow by 7.3% above the revenue base that was used in the FY22 budget that the Legislature adopted last July. The budget filed by the Governor (House 2) only offers a far-too-low 2.7% increase, and does not reflect full revenue sharing.   Between FY15 and FY20, the state’s revenue-sharing calculation worked well, providing adequate and dependable increases for UGGA that kept pace with state revenue growth – UGGA and state revenues each increased by 19% over these years. But during the past two years, the state’s revenue forecasts have been far lower than actual collections, and this threatens to leave cities and towns behind. State tax revenues have grown by 22% in FY21 and 22, but UGGA has only increased by 3.5%.   By tying UGGA increases to the growth from the FY22 enacted budget to January’s FY23 revenue forecast, this adjustment could be made and the UGGA account would increase by a total of $85.3 million. This would more adequately reflect the last two years of unprecedented state revenue growth, while acknowledging that future year tax revenues may return to more modest growth patterns.   UGGA provides essential funding for municipalities, allowing communities to deliver core services to residents and businesses, while mitigating further overreliance on the property tax. As you know, discretionary local aid suffered disproportionately large cuts during the Great Recession, and is still nearly $150 million below fiscal 2008 levels, without adjusting for inflation.

For FY23, the MMA requests an 7.3% increase in UGGA funding levels, to a new total of $1.253 billion.  

Click Here to See the Impact that Adequately Funding UGGA with a 7.3% Increase Would Have on your City or Town  

Increase Chapter 70 minimum aid to $100 per student Please thank your legislators for their commitment to fund Chapter 70 School Aid and fulfill the promises made in the Student Opportunity Act. Because this reflects the implementation of the SOA’s foundation budget enhancements, the majority of the new funding in House 2 would go to expansion of the foundation budget, adding weight for low-income students, English Language Learners, special education costs, and school employee health benefits. Unfortunately, 135 of 318 operating districts (42%) would receive only the minimum $30 per-student increase in the Student Opportunity Act, providing Chapter 70 increases of 1% or less, far below inflation. These 135 districts would receive a total of $9.3 million in new aid, while the other districts would receive $475 million more.

Please ask your legislators to increase minimum aid to $100 per student to ensure that all districts can at least keep pace with inflation and maintain their school services.   Fully Fund School Transportation Accounts (various line items)

In mid-March, DESE will release the FY23 projected costs associated with school transportation. We know that the Governor’s budget would cut regional transportation reimbursements below FY22 levels and would significantly underfund out-of-district vocational transportation. Please ask the Legislature to use DESE’s projections when published, to fully fund these key accounts, as well as the McKinney-Vento account for transporting homeless students.

Please ask your legislators for full funding of all school transportation accounts.  

Fully Fund PILOT

MMA supports full funding of the Commonwealth’s obligations to the program for payments in lieu of taxes for state-owned land (PILOT). The House 2 proposal would level fund this account at $35 million. A report completed by the state auditor in December 2020 found that this account has not met the state’s obligation in 20 years, and that the funding for fiscal 2020 should have been $45 million.   This is a particularly important program for the cities and towns that host and provide municipal services to state facilities that are exempt from the local property tax, and we applaud the Legislature’s fiscal 2022 increase, which initiated a path to phasing-in full funding. Unfortunately, H. 2 would stall that progress.  

Please ask your legislators to make an important investment in the PILOT program and continue the commitment to full funding.

When discussing the details, please ask them to support the auditor’s recommendation to fully fund this account based on the aggregate tax method, and ask for a “hold harmless” provision to protect municipalities with reduced land values and PILOT reimbursements.  

Pass a Multi-year $300M Chapter 90 Bond Bill & Support Supplemental Funding

While separate from the annual budget process, Chapter 90 funding for local roads and bridges is a key priority for municipalities. Chapter 90 is a critical program for all cities and towns across the Commonwealth, and it needs both short- and long-term support. Chapter 90 allocations have been generally flat at $200 million since fiscal 2012, and the purchasing power of that funding has been substantially diminished. Since fiscal 2012, the real value of Chapter 90 funding has dropped by at least 42% due to construction inflation.   The MMA estimates that the current Chapter 90 bond program ($200 million) is far short of the more than $600 million annual investment actually needed to maintain municipal roads. This figure was most recently calculated as of fall 2021, so the number today is likely even higher due to additional inflationary pressures and higher costs of supplies and materials.  

Please ask your legislators to pass a multi-year $300 million Chapter 90 bond bill by April 1, so municipalities can efficiently plan projects and take advantage of the construction season from the start. In addition, with a rapidly-growing need and many shovel-ready projects, we are requesting a separate, one-time $100 million supplemental appropriation, which was first proposed in the Governor’s FY22 supplemental budget.  

Click here to see MMA’s detailed testimony on key municipal budget priorities for FY23 Click here to see MMA’s detailed testimony on Chapter 90  

Please Contact Your Legislators Today!   Thank You Very Much!

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