Category Archives: Massachusetts Municipal Association

MMA on Gov’s budget

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GOV. BAKER FILES $44.6 BILLION FY 2021 BUDGET PROPOSAL

• $31.6M INCREASE IN UNRESTRICTED MUNICIPAL AID (2.8%)

• GOV’S CH. 70 PLAN WOULD INCREASE FY 2021 SCHOOL AID BY $303.5M (5.9%)

• YET MANY DISTRICTS REMAIN MINIMUM AID AT $30-PER-STUDENT

• CHARTER SCHOOL & SPECIAL ED REIMBURSEMENTS INCREASE

• MOST OTHER MUNICIPAL AND SCHOOL ACCOUNTS LEVEL FUNDED

January 22, 2020

 

Dear Osler Peterson,

 

Earlier this afternoon, Gov. Charlie Baker submitted a $44.6 billion fiscal 2021 state budget plan with the Legislature, proposing a spending blueprint that would increase overall state expenditures by 2.3 percent, as the Administration deals with slow revenue growth by restraining most spending across the board and placing an estimated $310 million into the state’s rainy day fund. The budget relies on significant one-time revenues of at least $200 million from a sales tax “modernization” proposal, and an increase in the tax on transportation network companies.

 

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 $31.6 million increase in Unrestricted General Government Aid, tracking the expected 2.8% increase in state tax revenues. Implementing this state-local revenue sharing framework continues to be a significant victory for cities and towns, and is good news in a budget where overall state spending is held to a 2.3% increase.

 

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 $303.5 MILLION, A 5.9% INCREASE – ALTHOUGH A LARGE NUMBER OF DISTRICTS ARE EXPECTED TO REMAIN AT MINIMUM AID ONLY

Fulfilling the commitments in the new Student Opportunity Act, the Governor’s fiscal 2021 budget submission would bring Chapter 70 school aid up to $5.48 billion, a $303.5 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 for some communities, 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. MMA members from across Massachusetts have unanimously adopted resolutions calling for at least $100-per-student in minimum aid for the past several years, and the MMA will continue to strongly advocate for significantly higher minimum aid throughout the budget process.

 

Click here to see DESE’s calculation of fiscal 2021 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 2021 charter school assessments and reimbursements

 

CHARTER SCHOOL REIMBURSEMENTS WOULD INCREASE TO $138.2M – CHARTER FUNDING REMAINS A SERIOUS PROBLEM TO BE SOLVED

The Governor’s budget would increase the charter school reimbursement account up to $138.2 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. However, this appropriation does not include $15 million in special charter school reimbursement payments included in the fiscal 2020 budget to address significant hardships, such as excess losses to charter schools that result in a net cut in Chapter 70 aid for the public school system (non-charters).

 

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 96% 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 $362.5M

The Governor’s budget would add $17.4 million to fund the Special Education Circuit Breaker program at $362.5 million, an increase of 5%. The Student Opportunity Act expanded the SPED circuit breaker by including out-of-district transportation, a good win for cities and towns. This new transportation component is being implemented over four years, and the Governor’s budget proposal includes the 25% phase-in amount for the coming fiscal year.

 

However, the $362.5 million appropriation amount does not include $18 million that has traditionally been provided to support administration and state agency transportation costs for special education students, and these funds will need to be added in order to ensure full funding.

 

REGIONAL SCHOOL TRANSPORTATION REIMBURSEMENTS LEVEL FUNDED

Gov. Baker’s budget submission would level-fund regional transportation reimbursements at the $75.8 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 LEVEL FUNDED

The Governor’s budget would level-fund reimbursements for the transportation of homeless students at $11.1 million. 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 $30 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 $31.6M increase in municipal aid and the $303.5M 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 SPED Circuit Breaker

 

THANK YOU!

To Select Board conference Saturday

This Saturday I am attending the Massachusetts Selectmen’s Association (part of the Massachusetts Municipal Association) Leadership Conference.  I always learn something at Massachusetts Municipal Association events.

 

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Massachusetts Selectmen’s Association Leadership Conference on Saturday, June 8 at the Sharon Community Center

This year’s program will feature a luncheon keynote presentation from Senator Jason Lewis. Senator Lewis serves at the Chairperson of the Joint Committee on Education and the Vice Chair of the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development. His presentation will focus on the state of education in the Commonwealth and the importance of local leadership.

The conference includes a light breakfast and lunch and will run from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Members will hear from MMA Executive Director and CEO Geoff Beckwith with a brief welcome to the organization and a robust legislative update. From there, the event turns to two tracks of programming, one for veteran selectmen and one for newly elected selectmen.

 

Topics will include:

  • Introduction to the Open Meeting and Public Records Law with KP Law Managing Partner Lauren Goldberg and Sherborn Selectman Paul DeRensis (recommended for newly elected)
  • Municipal Finance 101 with Arlington Deputy Director Sandy Pooler and ATFC President and Sharon Finance Committee Member Ira Miller (recommended for newly elected)
  • Shared Services: Your Guide to Cooperation Across Town Lines with the Division of Local Services Analyst Tara Lynch and Cohasett Town Manager Chris Senior (recommended for veteran selectmen)
  • You’re Only 1 Vote: Building Consensus on Your Board and Beyond with experts on communication and management including current Buckland Select Board Member and former town manager Barry Del Castilho (recommended for veteran selectmen)
  • Closing session speaker on education and leadership by Senator Jason Lewis

MMA on Gov’s budget proposal

The Massachusetts Municipal Association sent out this email today on its analysis of the Governor’s budget proposal:

GOV. BAKER FILES $42.7 BILLION FY 2020 BUDGET PROPOSAL

• UNRESTRICTED MUNICIPAL AID WOULD INCREASE BY $29.7M (2.7%)

• GOV’S CH. 70 PLAN WOULD INCREASE FY 2020 SCHOOL AID BY $200M (4.3%)

• BUT MANY DISTRICTS STUCK AT $20-PER-STUDENT MINIMUM AID

• CHARTER SCHOOL & SPECIAL ED REIMBURSEMENTS UNDERFUNDED

• MOST OTHER MUNICIPAL AND SCHOOL ACCOUNTS LEVEL-FUNDED

January 23, 2019

Dear Osler Peterson,

Earlier this afternoon, Gov. Charlie Baker submitted a $42.7 billion fiscal 2020 state budget plan with the Legislature, proposing a spending blueprint that would increase overall state expenditures by 1.5 percent, as the Administration deals with slow revenue growth by restraining most spending across the board and placing an estimated $297 million into the state’s rainy day fund. The budget relies on “significant” one-time revenues of at least $200 million from a “sales tax modernization proposal.”

UNRESTRICTED MUNICIPAL AID INCREASED BY $30 MILLION

As Gov. Baker pledged to local officials on Jan. 18 at the MMA’s Annual Meeting, his budget includes a $29.7 million increase in Unrestricted General Government Aid, tracking the expected 2.7% increase in state tax revenues.

Click here to see the Division of Local Services preliminary fiscal 2020 Cherry Sheet aid amounts for your community

OVERALL CHAPTER 70 SCHOOL AID WOULD GO UP BY $200 MILLION, YET A LARGE PERCENTAGE OF DISTRICTS WOULD REMAIN AT MINIMUM AID ONLY

The Governor filed separate legislation to amend the Chapter 70 school finance law, and provided a $200 million increase in school aid in his fiscal 2020 budget recommendation to fund the first year of what the Administration says is a seven-year plan to implement a number of changes to the current law, primarily in the areas recommended by the Foundation Budget Review Commission. An initial look at House 1 indicates that a large percentage of cities, towns and school districts would not benefit from the formula changes in fiscal 2020, and would remain minimum-aid-only. The budget plan sets the minimum aid increase at only $20-per-student, which would present large challenges for all of these communities. MMA members from across Massachusetts unanimously adopted a resolution calling for at least $100-per-student minimum aid at last week’s Annual Meeting.

Click here to see DESE’s calculation of fiscal 2020 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

CHARTER SCHOOL REIMBURSEMENTS REMAIN SIGNIFICANTLY UNDERFUNDED; FIXING THE CHARTER SCHOOL FINANCE SYSTEM MUST BE PART OF ANY CHAPTER 70 REFORM PLAN

Further, the Administration is proposing a few changes to the Charter School Reimbursement Program, but this does not come close to achieving the permanent fix that is needed to repair the flawed charter school finance system. Current reimbursements this year are set at $90 million, $72 million below the full funding level of $162 million. The Governor’s budget would increase charter school reimbursements to $106 million, and would change the 6-year funding schedule of 100-25-25-25-25-25 to a new 3-year 100-60-40 schedule, phased in over 3 years, however the plan would also increase the facilities assessment payments to charter schools, and make other changes.

The MMA’s immediate analysis is that charter school reimbursements would continue to fall far short, and this restructuring would not fix the charter school finance system. This would continue to divert Chapter 70 funds away from municipally operated school districts, and place greater strain on the districts that serve 96% of public school children. No matter what changes are made to the Chapter 70 formula, major problems will continue unless a true resolution of the charter school funding problem is integrated into any reform or update of the school finance system.

SPECIAL EDUCATION CIRCUIT BREAKER UNDERFUNDED

The Governor’s budget would add $4.5 million to fund the Special Education Circuit Breaker program at $323.9 million, an increase of only 1.4%. Because special education costs are expected to rise in fiscal 2020, this means that the Governor’s budget substantially underfunds reimbursements. Today DESE officials said the House 1 appropriation would result in a 70% reimbursement, rather than the statutory 75%. This is a vital account that every city, town and school district relies on to fund state-mandated services. The MMA will again be asking lawmakers to ensure full funding in fiscal 2020.

REGIONAL SCHOOL TRANSPORTATION REIMBURSEMENTS LEVEL FUNDED

Gov. Baker’s budget submission would level-fund regional transportation reimbursements at the $68.9 million amount. 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.

McKINNEY-VENTO REIMBURSEMENTS LEVEL FUNDED

The Governor’s budget would level-fund reimbursements for the transportation of homeless students at $9.1 million. 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), SHANNON GRANTS AND LIBRARY AID LEVEL FUNDED

The Governor’s budget would level fund PILOT payments at $28.48 million, Shannon anti-gang grants at $8 million, and fund library grant programs at $19.8 million.

PLEASE CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATORS TODAY AND CALL ON THEM

TO COMMIT TO COMPREHENSIVE REFORM OF OUR SCHOOL FINANCE LAWS TO BENEFIT ALL COMMUNITIES, INCLUDING FIXING THE FLAWS IN CHARTER SCHOOL FUNDING, AND FULLY FUNDING KEY MUNICIPAL AND SCHOOL PROGRAMS

THANK YOU!

MMA legislative breakfast

The Massachusetts Municipal Association holds legislative breakfasts to allow municipal officials to interact with their legislators.  I attended one this morning at the Christa McAuliffe Library in Framingham and the room was chock full of metrowest legislators.

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I now see that my water bottle had prime placement.  The photo shows about a third of the attendees.

To my left was Representative Bruce Linsky (Natick and Sherborn) who said that Natick and Wellesley are being deluged by Open Meeting Law requests by some gadfly who is taking up way too much time of the town hall workers, and that some corrective legislative action will be needed.  I asked him to include allowing we selectmen to communicate by email on platforms where all our emails would appear in an on-line page in the town’s website, similar to a posted meeting, but the use of the emails would allow more efficient handling of the town’s business and the public could read the entire exchange (similar to listening to an in person meeting).

Senator Eldridge, to Linsky’s left, reported that:

  • education reform almost got out of the conference committee;
  • land use litigation will happen soon; and
  • 82 communities have now passed plastic bag bans and we are close to a tipping point that will allow passage of a state ban.

Senator Hannah Kim talked about need for more parking at transportation (MBTA) sites and proposing an income tax deduction for farmers who donate produce that alleviates food insecurity.

Rep. Carmen Gentile (Sudbury) is seeking to make the home rule action that allowed Sudbury to give real estate property tax relief to its seniors for the past three years to any town that wants to opt in.  BTW, I called and got that Sudbury material and I will organize and share it soon.

Lexington Selectman Michelle Ciccola, who is soon to be a state rep., wants to see the Massachusetts Community Preservation Act (CPA) to get better funded.

Rep. Kate Hogan was concerned about a litany of issues, and I mainly noted about transportation.

Our own Rep. Denise Garlick was not there, but was represented by Anne Weinstein, her Director of Constituent Services (out of the frame to the right).

Selectman Dan Matthews of Needham and I both told the legislators that towns need more revenue.  I shared my idea to have the auto excise tax be based on the car’s fair market value, which would likely triple our ca. $2 m. revenues (the statute mandates a steep decline in the car values by year).

MMA’s Pickard Innovation Award

The Massachusetts Municipal Association annually gives awards to innovative municipal programs.  Today I got the MMA email (inserted below) encouraging towns to submit entries for this year, and what I thought was interesting was to review the past winners list.  Massachusetts has 351 municipalities all trying to solve the same issues, and we can learn a lot from one another, which is the basic assumption behind the MMA.  Let me know if you see one that you think Medfield should be pursuing.

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The following are recent winners of the MMA’s Pickard Innovation Award:

2018
Arlington: Property registry addresses commercial vacancies
Harwich: Municipal pet cemetery provides service while raising revenue
Orleans: Project uses shellfish to reduce water nitrogen levels

2017
Leominster: Creating an autism-friendly city and community
Salem: ‘Park Your Butts’ retools to improve cigarette waste recycling
Adams: Board unites artists, local government to spur creative economy
Scituate: Standard procedures, templates streamline emergency news dissemination

2016
Danvers: Incentive program reduces peak electricity use and costs
Everett: City-run center offers low-cost exercise classes and equipment
Leverett: Town builds high-speed fiber optic Internet network

2015
Chatham: Cloud provides access to meeting video archives
Deerfield, Sunderland, Whately: Emergency medical service improves response times
Springfield: After tornado, city promoted tree planting

2014
Arlington: ‘Visual Budget’ illuminates how taxes are spent
Bedford, Billerica, Burlington, Chelmsford, Lowell: Communities collaborate on economic development
Melrose: ‘Our City’ exercise helped sharpen civic goals

2013
Braintree, Weymouth: Collaboration bears fruit in Landing district
‘HarborWalk’ reveals Gloucester’s riches
Medford broadens its ‘Go Green’ initiative

2012
Bedford, Concord, Lexington, Lincoln, Sudbury, Weston: Towns formed coalition to monitor affordable housing
Danvers: Summer program created for homeless kids
Leominster: Effort to revive historic district nears fruition

2011
Fairhaven: Anaerobic digestion to offset energy costs
Hamilton-Wenham: Organic waste pick-up program nears goal
Wilmington: Land purchase led to library bookstore

2010
Bedford: Coordination boosts parent-education series
Dedham: Partnership helps alleviate foreclosure pain
Medford: Wind turbine marks progress in sustainability campaign

2009
Dennis: Blog spreads awareness of planning process
Natick shapes strategic planning to fit town government
Worcester moved quickly to confront foreclosure crisis

MMA on state budget

This today from the Massachusetts Municipal Association, with a good summary of the state budget issues –

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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.

 

Please click here to download a copy of the MMA’s letter, so you can read and reference it when you speak with your legislators

 

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 jrobertson@mma.org.

 

Thank you very much!

MMA analysis of Gov.’s budget

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Dear Osler,

 

GOV. BAKER FILES $40.9 BILLION FY 2019

BUDGET PROPOSAL

• UNRESTRICTED MUNICIPAL AID WOULD INCREASE BY $37.2 MILLION (3.5%)

• BASE CHAPTER 70 AID WOULD INCREASE BY $103.6 MILLION (2.2%)

• $15 MILLION IN SCHOOL AID ADDED FOR STUDENTS FROM PUERTO RICO

• MOST OTHER MUNICIPAL AND SCHOOL ACCOUNTS LEVEL-FUNDED

 

 

Earlier this afternoon, Gov. Charlie Baker submitted a $40.9 billion fiscal 2019 state budget plan with the Legislature, proposing a spending blueprint that would increase overall state expenditures by 2.6 percent, as the Administration seeks to close an ongoing structural budget deficit by restraining spending across the board and placing an estimated $96 million into the state’s rainy day fund. The budget relies on $95 million in one-time revenues.

 

As Gov. Baker pledged to local officials on Jan. 19 at the MMA’s Annual Meeting, his budget includes a $37.2 million increase in Unrestricted General Government Aid, and $103.6 million more for Chapter 70 school aid. The Gov.’s proposal for Chapter 70 aid includes a minimum aid increase of $20-per-student, full funding of the foundation budget requirements, and continued implementation of the “target share” equity provisions. The foundation budget calculation would continue modest progress to implement the Foundation Budget Review Commission’s recommendation to use a more realistic factor for the cost of employee health insurance in school systems.

 

Most other municipal and education aid accounts in the Governor’s budget proposal would remain at fiscal 2018 levels. The special education circuit breaker would increase by $10 million, but would remain underfunded by about $20 million. Payments-in-lieu of taxes ($26.8M), regional school transportation ($61.5M), Shannon anti-gang grants ($6M), McKinney-Vento reimbursements ($8.1M) and METCO ($20.6M) would all be level-funded at fiscal 2018 amounts.

 

The Governor would level-fund charter school reimbursements at $80.5 million, a painful proposal that is approximately $85 million below the amount necessary to fully fund the statutory formula that is designed to offset a portion of the amount that communities are required to transfer to charter schools. Level-funding this account 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% of public school children.

 

 

Click here to see the Division of Local Services preliminary fiscal 2019 Cherry Sheet aid amounts for your community, based on the Governor’s proposed budget (you will need to insert the name of your community in the field)

 

Click here to see DESE’s calculation of fiscal 2019 Chapter 70 aid and Net School Spending requirements for your city, town, or regional school district, based on the Governor’s proposed budget

 

 

UNRESTRICTED MUNICIPAL AID INCREASED BY $37.2 MILLION

In a major victory for cities and towns, House 2 (the Governor’s fiscal 2019 budget submission) would provide $1.1 billion for UGGA, a $37.2 million increase over current funding. This fulfills one of Gov. Baker’s major promises to increase direct municipal aid by the same rate of growth as state tax revenues.

 

The $37.2 million would increase UGGA funding by 3.5 percent, the same rate of growth projected for state tax revenues. Every city and town would see their UGGA funding increase by this 3.5 percent growth rate.

 

CHAPTER 70 SCHOOL AID WOULD GO UP JUST 2.2 PERCENT

The Governor’s budget submission proposes a small 2.2 percent increase in Chapter 70 education aid of $103.6 million, providing every city, town and school district with a minimum increase of $20 per student. The Governor’s budget would continue to implement the target share provisions enacted in 2007. The Governor’s budget includes a partial reflection of one of the Foundation Budget Review Commission’s key recommendations, which is updating the foundation budget to reflect the cost of employee health insurance. But this adjustment in the foundation budget is not enough to increase aid to many districts. A high majority of cities, towns and districts would only receive an increase of $20 per student under the Governor’s budget. This below-inflation increase is too low, and would force communities to reduce school programs or further shift funds from the municipal side of the budget.

 

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 believes should be at least $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.

 

SPECIAL EDUCATION CIRCUIT BREAKER UNDERFUNDED

The Governor’s budget would add $9.9 million to fund the Special Education Circuit Breaker program at $291.1 million. Because special education costs are expected to rise in fiscal 2019, this means that the Governor’s budget underfunds reimbursements by approximately $20 million. This is a vital account that every city, town and school district relies on to fund state-mandated services. The MMA will again be asking lawmakers to ensure full funding in fiscal 2019.

 

CHARTER SCHOOL REIMBURSEMENTS LEVEL FUNDED AT $80.5 MILLION

As noted above, the Governor would level-fund charter school reimbursements at $80.5 million, far 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 fiscal 2018 funding level is $73 million BELOW what is necessary to fund the reimbursement formula that is written into state law, so it is clear that the shortfall will grow significantly in fiscal 2019. MMA’s estimate is that this account is at least $85 below what is necessary. This 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% of public school children. Solving the charter school funding problem must be a major priority during the budget debate.

 

REGIONAL SCHOOL TRANSPORTATION REIMBURSEMENTS LEVEL FUNDED

Gov. Baker’s budget submission would level-fund regional transportation reimbursements at the $61.5 million amount. 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 $242K. Increasing these accounts is a priority for cities and towns.

 

McKINNEY-VENTO REIMBURSEMENTS LEVEL FUNDED

The Governor’s budget would level-fund reimbursements for the transportation of homeless students at $8.1 million. 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) AND SHANNON GRANTS LEVEL FUNDED, AND LIBRARY AID UP $191K

The Governor’s budget would level fund PILOT payments at $26.77 million, Shannon anti-gang grants at $6 million, and fund library grant programs at $19.3 million (up $191K).

 

GOV. PROPOSES APPLYING HOTEL-MOTEL TAX TO AIRBNB AND OTHER SHORT-TERM RENTALS, BUT ONLY IF RENTED FOR 150 DAYS

House 2 includes an outside section (section 32) that would subject Airbnb and other short-term rentals to the local room occupancy excise tax. However, this would only apply in cases where the property is rented for 150 days or more. The MMA strongly supports extending the room occupancy excise to ALL short-term rentals. The 150-day threshold would continue to shield a large percentage of seasonal and short-term rentals from taxation, and would not close the loophole that exists now.

 

 

PLEASE CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATORS TODAY AND CALL ON THEM TO PUBLICLY SUPPORT THE GOVERNOR’S PROPOSAL TO INCREASE UNRESTRICTED MUNICIPAL AID BY $37.2 MILLION – THIS INCREASE IS VITAL TO LOCAL BUDGETS IN EVERY CORNER OF MASSACHUSETTS

 

AND PLEASE ASK YOUR LEGISLATORS TO COMMIT TO INCREASING CHAPTER 70 EDUCATION AID, FIXING THE FLAWS IN CHARTER SCHOOL FUNDING, AND FULLY FUNDING KEY MUNICIPAL AND SCHOOL PROGRAMS

 

THANK YOU!