Category Archives: State

HOUSE BUDGET COMMITTEE ANNOUNCES $3.65B SPENDING PLAN FOR ARPA AND STATE SURPLUS  

From the Massachusetts Municipal Association this afternoon –

HOUSE BUDGET COMMITTEE ANNOUNCES $3.65B SPENDING PLAN FOR ARPA AND STATE SURPLUS  

October 25, 2021  

Dear Osler Peterson,  

Today, the House Committee on Ways and Means announced a $3.65 billion spending plan that draws from two revenue sources: the state’s multi-billion dollar fiscal 2021 surplus and its allocation from the American Rescue Plan Act’s State and Local Coronavirus Relief Fund.  

The House proposal (H. 4219) targets seven major categories: housing, environment and climate change mitigation, economic development, workforce, health and human services, education, and food insecurity.   House members have until 3 p.m. on Tuesday to file amendments, and debate is scheduled to begin on Thursday. After the House approves its proposal, the Senate is expected to offer its own bill in the coming weeks.  

The following are the highlights of H. 4219:  

Housing The $600 million proposed for housing programs includes targeted investments in supportive housing production, public housing maintenance, homeownership assistance, the CommonWealth Building Program, and affordable housing production.  

Environment and climate The bill includes $350 million for environmental infrastructure and development spending, with a focus on environmental justice communities. Targeted investments include Marine Port Development and Offshore Wind, environmental infrastructure projects aimed at bolstering communities’ climate resiliency, water and sewer infrastructure improvements, greening the Gateway Cities, and upgrades to state parks and recreational facilities.   Of the $350 million, $100 million would go to low-income, environmental justice and urban communities to improve climate resiliency. A $100 million water and sewer infrastructure component also prioritizes projects that support environmental justice populations and those disproportionately impacted by the public health emergency.  

Economic development With $777 million allocated for economic development, the House proposal includes a $500 million investment in the Unemployment Trust Fund, aid for the recovery of the cultural sector of the economy through the Massachusetts Cultural Council, funding for the YouthWorks summer jobs program, tax relief for small businesses, and money to help close the digital divide and assist in the resettlement of Afghan refugees.  

Workforce The bill would focus $750 million on workforce issues, including $500 million for premium pay bonuses for essential workers who worked in-person during the state of emergency, as well as funds for the Workforce Competitive Trust Fund and career technical institutes and vocational schools.  

Health and human services The bill targets relief for financially strained providers, such as hospital and nursing facilities, and investments in workforce initiatives, behavioral health programs, technical infrastructure for community health center improvements, prison reentry grants, and community-based violence prevention.  

Education The House proposal seeks to address disparities in public school facilities, including $100 million for HVAC grants to be distributed through the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education under the guidance of the Racial Imbalance Advisory Council. Additional education investments include higher education capital projects, the endowment incentive program, special education needs, and pathways to educator licensure for Black, indigenous, and people of color.  

Food insecurity The bill includes $78 million to address food insecurity, focusing on infrastructure grants.  

In June, Gov. Charlie Baker proposed his plan to spend roughly half of the Commonwealth’s State and Local Coronavirus Relief Funds, and in August, the governor filed a separate supplemental budget bill to spend a large portion of the fiscal 2021 state surplus. The Legislature passed a scaled-back supplemental budget — signed by the governor on Oct. 21 — that delayed decisions on how to spend much of the state surplus.
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Higher Logic

State $ support to Medfield up $127K next year

Email received today from the Division of Local Services (DLS), a part of the Massachusetts Department of Revenue:

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FY2022 Preliminary Cherry Sheets Estimates 

The FY2022  Conference Committee Report was released on Thursday July 8th and approved by both the House of Representatives and Senate Friday July 9th.  As a result, DLS has updated the preliminary cherry sheet estimates to reflect these new funding levels. The preliminary cherry sheets can be found on the DLS website.

Click here for Preliminary Municipal Cherry Sheet Estimates or here for Preliminary Regional Cherry Sheet Estimates.

If you have any questions about the preliminary estimates, please contact the Data Analytics and Resources Bureau at databank@dor.state.ma.us.

Gov. signs extension of some COVID measures

From Division of Local Services (DLS) –

An Act Relative to Extending Certain COVID-19 Measures Adopted During the State of Emergency

On June 16th, the Governor signed into law Ch. 20 of the Acts of 2021, extending certain pandemic-related policy measures including authorizations for remote public meetings, to-go alcohol sales, eviction protections and more. Click here to view the law.

For additional related information and resources, please see the DLS COVID-19 Resources and Guidance for Municipal Officials page.
 

Zoom meetings in danger

Email today from the Massachusetts Municipal Association –

Abrupt End of State of Emergency on June 15 Will Create Huge Challenges for Cities and Towns

 

Please Call Your Reps & Senators Today and Ask Them to Fast-Track an Extension of Remote Meetings and Hearings

 

The State of Emergency Ends at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, June 15. Without Enactment of an Extension BEFORE June 15, the Ability to Hold Public Meetings and Hearings Remotely Will Stop

 

June 10, 2021

Dear Osler Peterson,

Time is running short! While the Legislature is in the process of developing a broad package of provisions to extend important authority and flexibility put in place during the pandemic, it may take a while for the branches to reach agreement on all the details. The Senate is meeting today to debate S. 2467, which includes a number of very good provisions, yet that will leave lawmakers just a few days to reach final agreement on a complex package.

The abrupt end of the state of emergency at 12:01 a.m. on June 15 will create a number of major transition challenges for government and businesses. Clearly the most immediate and urgent issue that must be addressed is enactment of an extension of the ability to conduct public meetings and hearings remotely. Please call your Senators and Representatives and ask them to fast-track passage of the extension for remote meetings of public bodies before June 15. The other extensions are important, yet do not face the June 15 deadline.

Please share these key points with your legislators:

  • On March 12, 2020, the Governor used his state-of-emergency powers to issue an executive order suspending certain provisions of Section 20 of MGL Chapter 30A, allowing cities and towns to conduct meetings remotely. This was necessary because the existing state statute is woefully inadequate, does not allow remote participation in meetings unless a physical quorum is present, and reduces the ability of officials who are participating virtually to fully engage. Nearly overnight, cities and towns adopted new technology and software platforms and created a new and remarkably successful remote meeting experience for municipal leaders and the public.
  • Communities do not want to snap back to the overly confining pre-pandemic rules, and most are not in a position to do so quickly. Remote meetings have engaged more residents than ever before and have significantly increased transparency and insight into government operations and decision-making. Many localities have closed public buildings, repurposed meeting rooms to provide safer distancing for municipal staff or have longer-term ventilation concerns that have yet to be addressed. Further, with many residents yet to be vaccinated, and immunocompromised officials and members of the public unable to achieve full protection from the coronavirus, it is imperative that we continue the remote meeting option for local government for public health purposes.
  • With scores of councils, boards and commissions in place in each of our 351 cities and towns, there are nearly 10,000 municipal entities that rely on remote meetings and virtual platforms to conduct everyday business in much greater public view than ever before. If June 15 comes without an extension of the ability to continue remote meetings, there will be countless canceled meetings, delayed public hearings and widespread disruption.
  • MMA is supporting the temporary extensions in S. 2467 and other bills and is urging lawmakers to make these changes permanent, including the option for public bodies to conduct remote or virtual meetings, allowance for remote Town Meetings that is also extended to Open Town Meeting communities, election provisions such as the option to vote by mail and to move municipal election and caucus dates during emergencies, and expedited permitting for outdoor table service and take-out alcoholic beverages.
  • This is the time to act! Massachusetts can embrace the innovations and lessons learned during the past 15 months, and use them to improve government operations, transparency, and public engagement to ensure a swifter recovery for our communities.

If you or your legislators have questions, please do not hesitate to contact MMA Senior Legislative Analyst Brittney Franklin at bfranklin@mma.org or MMA Legislative Director John Robertson at jrobertson@mma.org.

PLEASE CALL YOUR LEGISLATORS TODAY

Gov. seeks extensions of some covid measures

 
Breaking News from the MMA  


Gov. Baker files legislation to extend certain COVID-19 emergency measures

Gov. Charlie Baker is filing legislation today to extend certain emergency measures currently in place by executive order that are set to expire on June 15, when the state of emergency will be rescinded. The governor’s legislation would extend measures providing for a temporary suspension of certain open meeting law requirements, special permits for expanded outside dining at restaurants, and billing protections for COVID-19 patients. Temporarily extending these measures, the governor said, would give communities and businesses time to transition, but extending them requires legislation. …

COVID restrictions ending 5/29

  Breaking News from the MMA  

State to lift remaining COVID-19 restrictions, ease mask-wearing rules by May 29

Saying that the state will likely meet a key vaccination goal by early June, Gov. Charlie Baker announced today that the state will lift most remaining COVID-19 restrictions — including allowing for full capacity for industries and removing gathering limits — and adopt new federal guidance on mask wearing on May 29.

In a press conference Monday morning, Baker said that the state is now “safer, smarter and better equipped in this fight,” and is in a position to accelerate its full reopening and to rescind its current mask order. He said that the state expects to meet its goal of vaccinating 4.1 million people by the first week of June. …

Medfield’s FY2022 Preliminary Cherry Sheet Estimates show a $130K increase over last year

These state aide estimates are from the Division of Local Services (DLS) at the Massachusetts Department of Revenue. Next a conference committee has to reconcile the different amounts proposed by the legislature and the senate. –

Senate W&M budget released

SENATE W&M COMMITTEE OFFERS $47.6B FY22 BUDGET WITH KEY INVESTMENTS IN MUNICIPAL & SCHOOL AID 

• INCLUDES THE FULL $39.5M INCREASE IN UGGA
• INCREASES CHAPTER 70 BY $220M ABOVE FY21,FUNDING THE STUDENT OPPORTUNITY ACT ON SCHEDULE
• INCREASES CHARTER SCHOOL REIMBURSEMENTS BY $31.7M• ADDS $46M FOR STUDENT ENROLLMENT AND SUMMER SCHOOL GRANTS
• INCLUDES $389M TO FUND THE SPECIAL EDUCATION CIRCUIT BREAKER• ADDS $1M TO McKINNEY-VENTO REIMBURSEMENTS OVER FY21
•ADDS $4M TO PILOT 

May 11, 2021 

Dear Osler Peterson, 

Earlier today, the Senate Ways & Means Committee advanced a $47.6 billion fiscal 2022 state budget plan to the full Senate for consideration later this month. The plan would increase overall state expenditures by 2.6% over the current year’s budget, and reflects a 4.3% increase over the Governor’s January budget proposal. The SW&M budget matches the 3.5% increase in Unrestricted General Government Aid (UGGA) in the Governor’s and House budgets, would significantly increase Chapter 70 school aid, and includes $40 million in a one-time grant program targeting student enrollment decline. 

The full Senate will start debate on the FY22 budget on Tuesday, May 25, and Senate members must file all budget amendments by 2 p.m. on Friday, May 14. The Senate usually considers over 1,000 amendments during budget debate week. 

The SW&M budget would increase funding for other major aid programs by adding $220 million to Chapter 70 aid over FY21; $37 million in additional funds for Charter School Mitigation payments, and an additional $1 million for McKinney-Vento transportation for homeless students. To acknowledge student enrollment declines due to the public health emergency, S. 3 would set aside $40 million in a one-time reserve account to assist districts impacted by the decline, as well as $6 million in one-time grant funding for summer school and student mental health support. The proposal would also provide an increase of $1 million for public libraries and $1 million for regional public libraries. S.3 also proposes a $4 million increase for the Payment-in-Lieu-of-Taxes (PILOT) for state-owned land account. 

Later Today or by the End of the Week, You Can Use This Link to See Your Community’s Local Aid and Preliminary Cherry Sheet Numbers in the Senate Ways & Means Budget, as Posted by the Division of Local Services 

You Can Link to the SW&M Committee’s Budget Here 

Chapter 70

The Senate Ways & Means budget would increase Chapter 70 aid by $220 million over FY21, bringing the total to $5.503 billion. S. 3 would fund the “goal rates” originally set forth in the Student Opportunity Act, which set a seven-year schedule that was to begin in FY21 but was sidelined last year due to the public health emergency. To get back on track, the MMA joined with other education advocates to ask the Legislature to fund Chapter 70 at an SOA implementation rate of one-sixth rather than one-seventh in order to return to the intended schedule. The House-Senate local aid agreement included a commitment to fund the Student Opportunity Act increases at one-sixth. S. 3 includes a one-time provision, introduced in the Governor’s budget and supported by the MMA, that would allow municipalities to use a portion of their school district’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER II) federal grant award toward the increase from last year in their required local contribution. The House did not include this language. 

Rural School Aid
Rural School Aid is funded at $3 million, reinserting an important account for rural school districts, especially those struggling with declining enrollment. The Governor funded this account at $1.5 million, half of the FY21 appropriation, and the House did not include the line item. 

Special Education Circuit Breaker
S. 3 provides $387.9 million, including approximately $15 million funds carried over from the previous year, for the Special Education Circuit Breaker, reimbursing school districts for the high cost of educating students with disabilities at the statutorily required 75% reimbursement rate. This reimbursement rate, as well as the inclusion of costs associated with out-of-district transportation, reflect obligations outlined in the Student Opportunity Act. The total appropriation is higher than the budgets offered by the Governor and the House. 

Charter Schools
To address charter school mitigation payments, S. 3 includes $149.1 million to reimburse school districts at 75%, the rate set forth in year one of the Student Opportunity Act implementation schedule, for costs incurred when students leave to attend charter schools, which is $5 million below the House budget. The MMA points out that charter school finance presents a major challenge to many districts, in a number of cases negating the increases districts realize in Chapter 70 aid. 

School Transportation
The Senate Ways and Means budget decreases regional school transportation to $78.6 million. The House budget was higher at $82 million. The Senate Ways and Means budget would increase transportation for homeless students under McKinney-Vento by $1 million over FY21, to $14.4 million. Out-of-district vocational transportation is level-funded at $250,000. 

PILOT Funding Increased
Recognizing the importance of Payments-in-Lieu-of-Taxes (PILOTS) for state-owned land, the Senate Ways & Means Committee increased the line item to $35 million (a $4 million increase over FY21). The Governor’s budget had recommended level-funding at $31 million; the House increased the account to $33 million. Underfunding PILOT over the years has created a significant hardship for smaller communities with large amounts of state-owned property. 

Shannon Grants, Cybersecurity, and Library Aid
S. 3 includes level-funding for the Shannon grants for gang violence prevention and intervention, and includes critical funding for the Mass Cybersecurity Innovation Fund, which provides important outreach and training programs for municipalities. The accounts for public libraries and regional public libraries would each see an increase of $1 million, matching the House proposal. 

SUMMARY
It is clear that Senate leaders are prioritizing K-12 funding, unrestricted municipal aid and other increases for cities and towns, as they advance an agenda to ensure stability during a time of uncertainty. The local funding aid agreement reached by the Joint Ways and Means Committee last month, including commitments to UGGA, Chapter 70, and the acknowledgement of school enrollment challenges, creates a more stable budget-setting process for cities and towns in the weeks and months ahead. This progress is deeply appreciated. During the budget debate and legislative session, the MMA will work to build on this progress, and will continue to advocate for full funding of the education funding priorities outlined in the Student Opportunity Act, fixing the serious problems caused by the current charter school system, securing higher Chapter 70 minimum aid increases, achieving full funding for all municipal and school reimbursement programs including transportation accounts, and providing higher PILOT funding. 

Please Call Your Senators Today to Thank Them for the Local Aid Investments in the Senate Ways and Means Committee Budget. 

Please Explain How the Senate Ways and Means Budget Would Impact Your Community, and Ask Your Senators to Build on this Progress During the Budget Debate. 

MSBA – please fund energy efficient schools

As part of the celebration of Earth Day, I asked to have my signature as a Town of Medfield Select Board member added to the letter below, going to the MSBA tomorrow. Medfield Energy Committee members and other may join too. –

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April 22, 2021

Deborah Goldberg, Chair
Anne Brockelman
Sean R. Cronin
Matt Deninger
Terry Kwan
Greg Sullivan
Sheila Vanderhoef

Via email to ______

Dear Treasurer Goldberg and members of the MSBA Board,

We are writing to encourage the MSBA to require that all school building projects funded by MSBA be fully electrified, and climate resilient.

The MSBA is to be commended for its track record of helping cities and towns replace or
renovate school buildings in an environmentally sustainable manner.

As your website notes,


The MSBA’s Green Schools Program provides incentives to a district to increase the
energy efficiency and sustainability for new construction and major renovation/addition
projects, by exceeding Massachusetts Energy base code by 20% for 2 additional
reimbursement points. All projects are required to register for the most recent version of
LEED-S or NE-CHPS and exceed Massachusetts Energy base code by 10%.

The MSBA’s updated Accelerated Repair Program provides a new opportunity to apply
sustainable standards to specific building systems such as roofs, boilers and window
systems. The MSBA’s green programs aim to encourage a high standard of
sustainability for all MSBA-funded projects. The MSBA continues to monitor the
effectiveness of its sustainable policies and make recommendations for
improvement, with an emphasis on energy and cost savings, resulting in direct
operational savings for school districts.
[bold added]

As municipal leaders interested in speeding the transition away from fossil fuel dependency, we were particularly pleased to see the highlighted above, as it demonstrates an interest in continuous improvement in the area of sustainability and carbon emissions reduction. We are following up on your interest in improvement to encourage you to tie school building funding to the following requirements for all new or renovated schools:

  • Heat and cooling should be supplied by clean all-electric heating and cooling systems, not oil, propane, or gas-fueled systems.
  • Parking lots should offer electric vehicle (EV) charging stations for staff and/or visitors.
  • Schools built on or near historic wetlands or in floodplains should take into account
    precipitation modeling for 2070 and beyond; this may entail a raised structure or building in an alternate location.

How do these recommendations fit into the Commonwealth’s climate goals?

• Massachusetts has a greenhouse gas reduction mandate of 80% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and a commitment to be net zero by 2050; many cities and towns have more aggressive goals. The IPCC issued a report in 2018 noting that to keep global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius — a goal of the Paris climate agreement — anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions would have to be on a path to fall by about 45 percent by around 2030.
• Massachusetts also has a goal of 300,000 EVs on the road by 2025.œ As HVAC systems are built to last for at least 20-30 years, that means we must act now to eliminate this significant source of fossil fuel energy.
• The National Climate Assessment projects that the Northeast will see dramatic increases in precipitation and flooding.

Why is all-electric the more environmentally beneficial choice? Under state law, the electric grid is powered by an increasing amount of renewable energy every year. In contrast, an oil or gas boiler is running on fossil fuels from day one until the day it is retired.

School building electrification is not a new concept. In fact, schools across the state are
converting to 100% clean electricity to save money, improve air quality for students, teachers and staff, and advance climate goals.
• Lincoln is about to break ground on a Net Zero K-8 renovation school project.
• Wellesley has one net zero ready elementary school in the design phase and is in the feasibility phase of a second.
• Brookline passed a Warrant Article in May 2019 requiring that all new school buildings be fossil fuel free.
• Westborough has approved and is moving forward with a net-positive energy elementary school.
• Arlington is about to break ground on a new all-electric high school where heating and cooling systems will utilize heat pumps.
• Several Cambridge schools have been rebuilt all-electric: Martin Luther King School, King Open School and the Cambridge Street Upper School, as well as the Valente Branch Library and a new administrative building for the entire school department; the Tobin/Vassal-lane school will be rebuilt all-electric.
• Construction is underway on the new Belmont Middle and High School which will be net zero and all-electric with heating and cooling by a geothermal heat pump system.
• Amherst passed a bylaw in 2017 requiring zero energy new municipal and school buildings.
• Concord is at the end of Feasibility for a net zero design for a new middle school and expects to start Schematic Design in the next few months (there was a CV-related delay).
• Lexington’s Select Board and School Committee adopted a building policy calling for construction of all-electric buildings, maximizing onsite renewable energy, and setting high standards for indoor air quality. Lexington’s Hastings Elementary School and Lexington Children’s Place pre-school are both expected to be net positive buildings when the solar energy systems that have been approved are completed later this year.

Energy efficient all electric schools are cost-effective to build and operate, while providing a healthier and safer learning environment for students and teachers alike.

Schools built on wetlands are more likely to suffer from mold and poor air quality, and need expensive repairs, especially as our region sees more frequent and intense rainfall.

Thank you for your consideration of our views. From the Green Communities Program to the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness Program to the Complete Streets grants and more, we are so appreciative of the Commonwealth’s partnership in supporting cities and towns efforts to advance our transition to a clean economy and make our communities more resilient as we face a changing climate. We would welcome the opportunity to speak with you in more detail about these recommendations and help you build support to enact them.

Sincerely,

Amherst
Darcy Dumont, Town Council, District 5
Dorothy S. Pam, Town Council, District 3
Patricia De Angelis, Town Councilor

Andover
Maria Bartlett, Member of Green Advisory Board

Arlington
Joseph A. Curro, Jr., Select Board Member
Adam Chapdelaine, Town Manager

Ashland
Robert Scherer, Select Board Member

Barnstable
Gordon Starr, Town Councilor, Precinct 1

Becket
Alvin Blake, Planning Board

Bolton
Jonathan Keep, Select Board Member

Boston
Kenzie Bok, City Councilor
Annissa Essaibi-George, City Councilor (At-Large)
Ed Flynn, City Councilor
Matt O’Malley, City Councilor

Braintree
Julia Flaherty, Town Council, District 1
Kelly J. Cobb-Lemire, School Committee Member

Brookline
Raul Fernandez, Select Board Member
Werner Lohe, Climate Action Committee (co-chair)

Burlington
Martha Simon, School Committee Member

Cambridge
Patricia Nolan, City Councilor
Quinton Zondervan, City Councilor

Concord
Charles Parker, Middle School Building Committee Member

Dalton
Robert Bishop, Select Board Chair
Cheryl Rose, Conservation Commission
Henry Rose, Commissioner, Conservation Commission
Joseph Fish, Chair, Green Dalton Committee

Dedham
Jessica Portee, Planning Board Member

Framingham
Geoff Epstein, School Committee Member, District 6

Gloucester
Jennifer Holmgren, Councilor-at-Large

Hopkinton
Jeffrey S Barnes, Conservation Commission (Chair)
Lakeville
Jesse L. Medford, Open Space Committee (Chair)

Lawrence
Jonathan Guzman, School Committee Member – District F

Lexington
Mark Sandeen, Select Board Member

Marlborough
Samantha Perlman, City Councilor

Medford
Zac Bears, City Councilor
Nicole Morell, City Councilor
Paul Ruseau, School Committee Member
Jenny Graham, School Committee

Newton
Susan Albright, City Council President
Alicia Bowman, City Councilor
Deb Crossley, City Councilor
Andreae Downs, City Councilor
Maria Scibelli Greenberg, City Councilor
Bill Humphrey, City Councilor
David Kalis, City Councilor
Josh Krintzman, City Councilor
Marc Laredo, City Councilor
Rick Lipof, City Council Vice President
Julia Malakie, City Councilor
Chris Markiewicz, City Councilor
Emily Norton, City Councilor
John Oliver, City Councilor
Holly Ryan, City Councilor

Northampton
Bill Dwight, City Councilor at Large
Alex Jarrett, City Councilor
Karen Foster, City Councilor, Ward 2
Susan Voss, School Committee Member
Chris Mason, Energy & Sustainability Officer

Pittsfield
Mary Stucklen, Commissioner – Green Commission

Reading
Vanessa Alvarado, Select Board Member

Somerville
Will Mbah, City Councilor
Ben Ewen-Campen, City Councilor
Katjana Ballantyne, City Councilor
Kristen Strezo, City Councilor-at-Large

Taunton
Phillip Duarte, City Councilor

Wakefield
Mehreen N. Butt, Town Councilor
Julie Smith-Galvin, Town Councilor
Susan Veilleux, School Committee Member
Rob Darnell, Environmental Sustainability Committee (Chair)
Mary Hajjar, Environmental Sustainability Committee (Vice Chair)
Robin Greenberg, Environmental Sustainability Committee
Jennifer Kallay, Gas & Light Board Commissioner
Elizabeth Sheridan, ESC Student Liaison

Watertown
Caroline Bays, Town Councilor
Angeline B. Kounelis, Town Councilor
Tony Palomba, Councilor-at-Large

Wellesley
Lise Olney, Select Board Member

Williamstown
Anne O’Connor, Select Board Member

Winchester
Michael Bettencourt, Select Board (Chair)

State budget clears House

Medfield’s #s in the budget proposal –

Contact Your Legislator Today!
HOUSE W&M COMMITTEE OFFERS $47.65B FY22 BUDGET WITH KEY INVESTMENTS IN MUNICIPAL & SCHOOL AID   • INCLUDES THE FULL $39.5M INCREASE IN UGGA • INCREASES CHAPTER 70 BY $21M ABOVE GOV’S BUDGET TO FUND THE STUDENT OPPORTUNITY ACT ON SCHEDULE • INCREASES CHARTER SCHOOL REIMBURSEMENTS BY $37M • ADDS $55M FOR STUDENT ENROLLMENT AND SUMMER SCHOOL GRANTS • INCLUDES $367M TO FUND THE SPECIAL EDUCATION CIRCUIT BREAKER • RESTORES $6M TO LEVEL FUND REGIONAL SCHOOL TRANS. AT FY21 LEVEL • ADDS $1M TO McKINNEY-VENTO REIMBURSEMENTS OVER FY21 •ADDS $2M TO PILOT  

April 14, 2021  

Dear Osler Peterson,  

Earlier today, the House Ways & Means Committee advanced a $47.65 billion fiscal 2022 state budget plan to the full House for consideration later this month. The plan would increase overall state expenditures by 2.6 percent over the current year’s budget, and reflects a 3.9 percent increase over the Governor’s January budget proposal. The HW&M budget matches the 3.5% increase in Unrestricted General Government Aid (UGGA) in the Gov’s budget, adds a significant increase to Chapter 70 school aid and Charter School reimbursements, and includes $55 million in important new grant programs.  

The full House will start debate on the FY22 budget on April 26, and House members must file all budget amendments by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, April 16. The House usually considers over 1000 amendments during budget debate week.  

H. 4000, the House Ways & Means budget, provides progress on many important local aid priorities, including the full $39.5 million increase in Unrestricted General Government Aid that the Governor proposed and communities are counting on. The House Ways & Means budget also mirrors the Governor’s proposed increase for Special Education Circuit Breaker, with an increase over FY 2021 of $22.5 million.  

The HW&M budget would increase funding for other major aid programs, by adding $21 million to Chapter 70 aid above the House One recommendation, for a total increase of $219 million; $37 million in additional funds for Charter School Mitigation payments, and an additional $1 million for McKinney-Vento transportation for homeless students. To acknowledge student enrollment declines due to the public health emergency, H. 4000 would set aside $40 million in a one-time reserve account to assist districts impacted by the decline, as well as $15 million in one-time grant funding for summer school and student mental health support. The proposal would also provide an increase of $1 million for public libraries and $1 million for regional public libraries. H. 4000 also proposes a $2 million increase for the Payment-in-Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) for state-owned land account.

Later Today or By the End of the Week You Can Use this Link to See Your Community’s Local Aid and Preliminary Cherry Sheet Numbers in the House Ways & Means Budget, as Posted by the Division of Local Services   You Can Link to the HW&M Committee’s Budget Here  

$39.5 MILLION INCREASE IN UNRESTRICTED MUNICIPAL AID

In January, the Administration kept its commitment to cities and towns to tie the increase in Unrestricted General Government Aid to the projected rate of growth in state tax revenues. This year, that increase was 3.5%, representing an increase of $39.5 million. The House Ways and Means FY 2022 plan would provide $1.168 billion for UGGA, reflecting the same increase proposed by Governor Baker. In a statement released by the Chairs of the Joint Ways and Means Committee last week, the two chambers have reached an agreement on this amount and every city and town will see their UGGA funding increase by 3.5%. This is welcome news to provide stability and predictability in municipal budgeting.  

CHAPTER 70 AID RETURNS TO ORIGINAL STUDENT OPPORTUNITY ACT SCHEDULE

The House budget committee is proposing a $219 million increase in Chapter 70 education aid ($21 million higher than the $197.7 million increase in H. 1), which would fund the “goal rates” originally set forth in the Student Opportunity Act. The SOA schedule set a 7-year schedule beginning in FY 2021, but that was sidelined last year due to the public health emergency. To get back on track, the MMA joined with other education advocates to ask the Legislature to fund Chapter 70 at an SOA implementation rate of 1/6th rather than 1/7th in order to return to the intended schedule.   Last week, House and Senate leaders reached a local aid funding agreement, which included this commitment to fund the increases in the SOA at 1/6th, funding Chapter 70 at a total of $5.503 billion. While this is important progress for districts, most districts remain at minimum aid.  

CHARTER SCHOOL MITIGATION PAYMENTS WOULD INCREASE BY $37 MILLION

House Ways & Means is proposing a total of $154 million for Charter School Mitigation Payments, which reflects an increase of $37 million over the current fiscal year. In keeping with the first year of a 3-year phase-in funding schedule outlined in the Student Opportunity Act, this investment meets the Legislature’s statutory obligation to fund charter school reimbursements at 75%. Charter school finance still presents a major challenge to many districts, in a number of cases negating the increases districts realize in Chapter 70 aid.  

$367 MILLION FOR SPECIAL EDUCATION CIRCUIT BREAKER

In line with the Governor’s budget recommendation in January, the House Ways & Means Committee’s budget includes the Governor’s recommendation of $367 million for Special Education Circuit Breaker, a $22.5 million increase over FY 2021. The Student Opportunity Act expanded the circuit breaker by including out-of-district transportation, an important enhancement for cities and towns.  

HW&M PROVIDES MIXED FUNDING FOR SCHOOL TRANSPORTATION ACCOUNTS

The House Ways & Means budget level funds regional transportation at $82 million. The budget would increase transportation for homeless students under McKinney-Vento by $1million to $14.4 million. There is no line item for out-of-district vocational transportation, which last year was funded at $250,000.  

PAYMENTS-IN-LIEU-OF-TAXES (PILOT) AND LIBRARY AID

Recognizing the importance of Payments-in-Lieu-of-Taxes (PILOTS) for state-owned land, the House Ways & Means Committee increased the line-item by $2 million to $33 million. The Governor’s budget had recommended level-funding at $31 million. Underfunding PILOT over the years has created a significant hardship for smaller communities with large amounts of state-owned property. The accounts for public libraries and regional public libraries would each see an increase of $1 million.  

SUMMARY

It is clear that House leaders are prioritizing K-12 funding and other increases for cities and towns, as they advance an agenda to ensure stability during a time of uncertainty. The local funding aid agreement reached by the Joint Ways and Means Committee last week, including commitments to UGGA, Chapter 70, and the acknowledgement of school enrollment challenges, will create a more stable budget-setting process for cities and towns in the weeks and months ahead. This progress is deeply appreciated.   During the budget debate and legislative session, the MMA will work to build on this progress, and will continue to advocate for full funding of the education funding priorities outlined in the Student Opportunity Act, fixing the serious problems caused by the current charter school system, securing higher Chapter 70 minimum aid increases, achieving full funding for all municipal and school reimbursement programs, and providing higher PILOT funding.  

Please Call Your Representatives Today to Thank Them for the Local Aid Investments in the House Ways and Means Committee Budget   Please Explain How the House Ways and Means Budget Would Impact Your Community, and Ask Your Representatives to Build on this Progress During the Budget Debate   Thank You!