HOUSE PANEL RELEASES FY 2013 BUDGET

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HOUSE PANEL RELEASES FY 2013 BUDGET

Postby dougsears on Wed Apr 11, 2012 3:00 pm

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

from MASSACHUSETTS MUNICIPAL ASSOCIATION -- HOUSE BUDGET PANEL RELEASES FY 2013 BUDGET

House Leaders Give Top Priority to Local Aid

Speaker DeLeo, Chairman Dempsey, Vice Chairman Kulik and House Members Propose Increasing Key Local Aid Accounts by $105 Million Above Governor’s Budget:

• Guarantees Funding for Unrestricted Municipal Aid at $899 Million, Adding $65 Million to the Base Cherry Sheet Distribution

• Adds $18.5 Million to Chapter 70 to Guarantee $40 Per Student Minimum Aid for All Cities, Towns and School Districts

• Increases SPED Circuit Breaker by $8.4 Million

• Fully Funds Homeless Student Transportation at $11.3 Million

• Increases Regional School Transportation by $2 Million

The House Ways and Means Committee today released its proposed state budget for fiscal 2013, and the message is clear: local aid is a top priority for members of the House of Representatives. Speaker Robert DeLeo, HW&M Chairman Brian Dempsey, Vice Chairman Stephen Kulik and all members of the House budget committee have embraced a strong fiscal partnership with cities and towns as an essential strategy for building a stronger economic recovery.

The House Ways and Means Committee’s proposed budget significantly improves funding for local aid when compared with the Governor’s budget submitted in January.

You can link to an on-line copy of the House Ways and Means Committee’s budget by clicking http://www.malegislature.gov/Budget/FY2013/House

Specific Unrestricted General Government Aid and Chapter 70 aid distributions by community can be found in Section 3 of the budget at the end of the “Section 2 & 3” tab.

A copy of the MMA’s statement on the budget can be downloaded by clicking here.

Here are the highlights:

• $65 Million Added to the Unrestricted General Government Aid Base – The House Ways and Means Committee budget funds the UGGA account at $899 million, increasing the up-front appropriation on the Cherry Sheet by $65 million. The Governor proposed level-funding UGGA at $834 million, and providing a later supplemental distribution of $65 million if the state ends fiscal 2012 with a surplus. But with fiscal 2012 state revenues coming in below expectations, the $65 million is not guaranteed, and communities wouldn’t know what funding, if any, would result until October, making it impossible to include the funds in fiscal 2013 operating budgets. House leaders want to make the $65 million permanent and add it to the base so that cities and towns can make full use of the funds for ongoing operations in their fiscal 2013 budgets.

• Increases Chapter 70 by $18.5 million to Guarantee Each Community and School District a Minimum Increase of $40 Per Student – The House budget committee’s plan would provide $18.5 million above the Governor’s proposed $146 million increase in Chapter 70 in order to guarantee that all cities, towns and school districts would receive an increase of at least $40 per student above fiscal 2012 Chapter 70 aid levels. Under the Governor’s budget, nearly two-thirds of communities would have been level-funded, and the House plan would guarantee that every district would receive an increase of at least $40 per student.

• Adds $8.4 million to the Special Education Circuit Breaker – The HW&M budget would fund the SPED Circuit Breaker at $221 million, an increase of $8.4 million. The Governor had proposed level-funding the account at $213 million. The House increase would get much closer to full funding of the account, a key priority for House lawmakers.

• Provides $11.3 Million to Fund the Transportation of Homeless Students – This is a new budget account to reimburse cities and towns for the cost of transporting homeless students to school, a state mandate that was created when the state adopted the federal McKinney-Vento Act. House leaders recognized that this was an unfunded mandate, based on State Auditor Suzanne Bump’s recent ruling, and have created this new account to fund the costs. The Governor’s budget did not fund the mandate.

• Increases Regional School Transportation Funding by $2 million – The HW&M proposal would fund this account at $45.5 million, a $2 million increase above the Governor’s budget, which proposed level funding at $43.5 million.

In addition to these highlights, the House budget committee would maintain funding for other key accounts at the same level as proposed by the Governor, including as Payment-in-Lieu-of-Taxes (PILOT) at $26.3 million, Library Aid at $16 million, and Charter School Reimbursements at $71.5 million. The House would fund the regional incentive aid grant program at $5 million, an increase over this year’s $4 million, and slightly below the Governor’s $7 million recommendation.

PLEASE CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVES AND ASK THEM TO SUPPORT THE LOCAL AID INCREASES IN THE HOUSE WAYS AND MEANS BUDGET, AND THANK THEM FOR THE FOLLOWING:

• Please tell your Representative(s) that you sincerely appreciate the House’s commitment to funding unrestricted municipal aid (UGGA) at $899 million, guaranteeing that cities and towns will receive the full $65 million that came back this year as supplemental aid. This will allow cities and towns to use the funds in fiscal 2013 to balance their budgets, reduce reliance on the property tax, and fund essential services, including police, fire, public works and schools.

• The House budget plan would provide every school district a Chapter 70 increase of at least $40 per student, as significant improvement over the Governor’s proposal.

. The House plan would increase funding for the Special Education Circuit Breaker and Regional School Transportation, and would fully fund the transportation of homeless students – major priorities for cities and towns.

PLEASE CALL YOUR SENATORS AND ASK THEM TO PASS A LOCAL AID RESOLUTION THIS WEEK

• We need the Senate to commit to the $65 million increase in unrestricted municipal aid and the $40 per student Chapter 70 aid increase proposed by House leaders, and all the increased proposed by the House. A local aid resolution is a top priority so that cities and towns can plan and pass their budgets with these vital funds to support public safety, education and other essential local services.

Members of the House of Representatives will have until Friday, April 13 to file amendments to the budget, and full debate on the measure will begin on Monday, April 23. The MMA will be analyzing the full budget and all amendments, and will be providing updates throughout the process. Please monitor all MMA budget updates on the MMA website, http://www.mma.org
dougsears
 
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