The flash news in the Governor’s state of the state address was that he intends to file a budget (due next week) that preserves local aid at last year’s level.
It’s hopeful news that he feels he can balance a budget with that assumption. But we haven’t heard the bad news in the budget yet — and all are agreed that there will be plenty of bad news in the budget. Every single senator and state representative would like to be able to preserve or increase local aid in every budget cycle. But I think that legislators and the public all need to see and vet the Governor’s budget before we can take to the bank the proposition that local aid can escape unscathed in this budget cycle.
I’ll be following this issue closely in the building and doing what I can to help the Governor keep this promise. I will also provide updates as they become available on this website.
Below is the information that came around from the Governor on Friday.
Dear Local Official,
As we finalize our Fiscal Year 2011 budget proposal, I am pleased to inform you of my intention to propose funding local aid at more than $5.2 billion next fiscal year.
Despite the fiscal challenges the Commonwealth continues to face, I will propose taking another step forward in our commitment to education by funding Chapter 70 at the highest level in the history of the Commonwealth at $4.048 billion. Every district will be fully funded at foundation, all districts will be held harmless to ensure funding is not less than fiscal year 2010 levels, and all Chapter 70 amounts will be funded by the State, not with deferral stimulus funds.
On the non-school, municipal side, I will propose funding unrestricted general government aid at fiscal year 2010 level of $936 million. I will also propose level funding other key local aid accounts, including payment-in-lieu-of-taxes and regional school transportation.
Chapter 70 and Unrestricted General Government Aid numbers for each community is available at: http://www.mass.gov/Ador/docs/dls/mdmstuf/StateAid/MMA_Sec_3.xls
As is customary, our proposal for all Cherry Sheet accounts will be available when our budget proposal is filed on January 27th.
Through our Fiscal Year 2011 budget, additional filings and submissions to the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government, our Administration is also proposing a number of new tools to support local governments, including:
o A local pension funding relief initiative to help local systems address unprecedented asset losses in a fiscally responsible way. Communities could save up to $200 million statewide in the first year of the proposed new schedule.
o An optional Early Retirement Incentive program for cities and towns.
o A rate freeze on special education private placements that could save $3.2M .
o Relief from library “maintenance of effort” requirements and decertification rules
o Allowing regional school districts to share superintendents, providing savings and efficiencies.
o Allowing regional school districts greater access to stabilization funds.
o Allowing local government procurement from state energy resource contracts.
o $250K in a reserve account to study the adequacy of the Chapter 70 foundation budget and formula.
o A local aid study commission to evaluate local aid formulas.
We look forward to working with you during the budget process.
Deval L. Patrick