Category Archives: Massachusetts Municipal Association

MMA on Senate version of state budget

This alert this morning from the Massachusetts Municipal Association on the Senate deliberations tomorrow on the state budget, highlighting issues important to towns. –

Monday, May 18, 2015

SENATE DEBATE ON FY 2016 STATE BUDGET BEGINS TUESDAY – CALL YOUR SENATORS

Lawmakers Will Decide the Fate of 942 Amendments

Please Call Your Senators Today on the Budget Amendments that Impact Key Municipal and School Priorities

The Massachusetts Senate will begin debating the $38 billion fiscal 2016 state budget on Tuesday, May 19th. The deliberations are expected to take several days, as Senators have filed 942 amendments to make changes to S. 3, the Senate Ways & Means Committee’s budget recommendation that was released last week.

Many of these amendments would directly impact cities and towns, including a number of welcome amendments that would increase funding for municipal and school aid accounts. This Legislative Alert describes the most important amendments that will be debated.

Please Call Your Senators Today

Please call your Senators as soon as possible today to secure their support for those amendments that would help your community.

Lawmakers must hear from you on these issues. Because of the great number of amendments, the summaries here are very brief. Please contact MMA Legislative Director John Robertson at jrobertson@mma.org or 617-426-7272 x122 at any time if you have questions or need more details.

When you call your Senators, please make sure to thank them for the proposals in the Senate budget to increase Unrestricted General Government Aid by $34 million (matching the budgets from the Governor and House), and for the $18.2 million increase to fully fund the Special Education Circuit Breaker.

Please Click Here to Download a Copy of the MMA’s Budget Letter to the Senate

Please Click Here to Visit the Senate Budget Website to See the Amendments: The Senate budget committee recommendation (S. 3) and all proposed amendments are posted on the Legislature’s website at: https://malegislature.gov/Budget/FY2016/Senate/ChamberActions

KEY BUDGET AMENDMENTS ON SCHOOL AND EDUCATION FUNDING

Adequate Chapter 70 Minimum Aid for Municipal and Regional Schools
The MMA is calling for a sufficient funding increase for Chapter 70 school aid to ensure that all municipal and regional school districts are able to reach the “foundation” level of spending, implement the equity provisions adopted in 2006, and provide an adequate amount of minimum aid that ensures that all schools receive an increase in fiscal 2016.

The Governor proposed a fiscal 2016 Chapter 70 increase that sets minimum aid at only $20 per student for 245 cities, towns and school districts, an insufficient amount to maintain current school staffing and services. The Senate budget would increase minimum aid to $25 per student, but in reality this still leaves too many schools unable to maintain quality school programs. Recognizing that the Foundation Budget Review Commission will not file its report until mid-2015, far past the deadline for inclusion in the fiscal 2016 state budget, the MMA is urging the House to adopt a higher minimum aid amount to prevent further erosion in school financing at the local level.

• Please ask your Senators to Support Amendment 94 filed by Sen. Eldridge and Amendment 100 filed by Sen. Hedlund to increase the “minimum aid” amount to $50 per student. This amendment would benefit 245 cities, towns and school districts, and give these communities a better chance of maintaining the quality of their existing education programming.

Reimbursements for Charter School Losses
The diversion of Chapter 70 school aid away from public schools to pay tuition to charter schools has imposed a major and growing financial burden on cities and towns, a problem made more acute as the state grants more charters and existing charter schools expand. Local officials strongly support full funding of the Commonwealth’s commitment under section 89 of Chapter 71 of the General Laws to reimburse school districts for the loss of a portion of their Chapter 70 aid that is redirected to fund charter schools.

In fiscal 2015, it is expected that cities and towns will be forced to divert $444 million to fund charter schools, 10 percent of all Chapter 70 dollars. This illustrates the importance of this issue to local governments, and why it is critical for the state to meet its commitment to this program. The original $80 million appropriation in the fiscal 2015 general appropriations act was $30.5 million below the full funding amount required in the statutory formula, which was signed into law only a few years ago. The problem has deepened with two rounds of 9C cuts to this account ($3.1 million), increasing the fiscal 2015 shortfall to at least $33.6 million.

The funding shortfall means that cities and towns are receiving only a fraction of the reimbursements due according to state law. This is impacting a large number of communities, including some the state’s poorest and most financially distressed cities and towns. Thus, the underfunding of the charter school reimbursement formula is harming the most vulnerable and challenged school districts and communities.

The House and Governor’s fiscal 2016 budget would level fund charter school reimbursements at $76.9 million, even though local payments to charter schools are expected to increase by $56.5 million. Full funding of the statutory formula would require $133.5 million. Without these funds, cities and towns will face another major shortfall next year, and result in cutbacks for the vast majority of students who remain in the traditional public school setting. The SW&M budget would provide $80 million, which is still far below the necessary funding.

• Please ask your Senators to Support Amendment 616 filed by Sen. Chang-Diaz, and Amendment 608 filed by Sens. Hedlund and Moore. These critical amendments would fully fund charter school reimbursements due to cities, towns and regional school districts by providing the full $133.5 million necessary to meet the state’s obligation.

McKinney-Vento Homeless Student Transportation Costs
In fiscal 2013, the state budget provided $11.3 million to fully fund the state-mandated costs that resulted from the Commonwealth’s adoption of the federal McKinney-Vento Act. The State Auditor ruled that the McKinney-Vento program was an unfunded mandate on cities and towns, and the Legislature provided full funding soon after that ruling. Under the program, communities are providing very costly transportation services to bus homeless students to schools outside of the local school district. However, the fiscal 2014 state budget reduced McKinney-Vento reimbursements to $7.4 million, underfunding this state mandate. Full funding for this year is estimated at $19.8 million, but the Commonwealth level-funded the program at $7.35 million, creating a shortfall of $12.5 million in the current fiscal year.

The House and Governor are proposing a $1 million increase for fiscal 2016 to bring funding for McKinney-Vento reimbursements up to $8.4 million, yet the SW&M budget would level-fund the program at $7.4 million. Full funding for this state mandate would require $20.8 million, according to the most recent DESE projection.

• Please ask your Senators to Support Amendment 586 filed by Sens. Eldridge and Lesser, Amendment 569 filed by Sens. Lovely and Barrett, and Amendment 611 filed by Sens. Hedlund and Moore that would fund reimbursements due to municipalities and school districts for the cost of transporting homeless students from temporary shelters to school. In addition, please ask your Senators to Support Amendment 33 filed by Senator Lovely that would protect cities and towns that host homeless families from reduced room occupancy excise revenues as a result of the state’s emergency assistance (EA) program.

Regional School District Student Transportation Reimbursements
Funding for transportation reimbursements to regional school districts is vital to all regional districts and their member cities and towns, particularly in sparsely populated parts of the state. The Legislature appropriated $70.3 million for fiscal 2015, but, unfortunately, Governor Patrick used his 9C powers to cut the amount in November by 27 percent, an unexpected $18.7 million loss, returning the program to fiscal 2014 levels just months after coming closer to full funding. Decades ago, the state promised 100 percent reimbursement as an incentive for towns and cities to regionalize, and the consistent underfunding of this account has presented serious budget challenges for these districts, taking valuable dollars from the classroom. The Governor’s budget proposal would level-fund regional school transportation reimbursements at $51.5 million, dropping the reimbursement percentage down to 64 percent. The Senate Ways and Means Committee would restore $5 million to this key program in fiscal 2016, and bring funding up to $56.5 million, a positive and helpful increase, yet still below the funding needed.

• Please ask your Senators to Support Amendment 545 filed by Senator Gobi and others, Amendment 522 filed by Senator Humason and Amendment 612 filed by Senators Hedlund and Moore that would build on the progress in S. 3, and bring transportation reimbursements to regional school districts closer to the original fiscal 2015 appropriation.

Out-of-District Vocational Education Student Transportation
The fiscal 2015 state budget included $2.25 million item to reimburse communities for a portion of the $3.8 million cost of transporting students to out-of-district placements in vocational schools, as mandated by state law. This account recognizes the significant expense of providing transportation services for out-of-district placements, as these students must travel long distances to participate in vocational programs that are not offered locally. Governor Patrick slashed all funding with his November 9C cuts, a painful mid-year loss. The SW&M budget does not include any funding.

• Please ask your Senators to Support Amendment 574 filed by Sen. Gobi to fully fund the $3.9 million cost of transporting students to out-of-district placements in vocational schools.

Kindergarten Expansion Grants
177 cities, towns and regional school districts in every corner of the Commonwealth use this important grant program to support full-day access to local kindergarten programs – including communities in virtually every Senate district. Funding for the program in the fiscal 2015 general appropriations act was $23.9 million before being reduced through two rounds of 9C cuts to $18.6 million. The Governor’s budget recommendation would eliminate all funding in fiscal 2016, an extremely disruptive step that would force participating communities to immediately decide whether to end or scale back their current kindergarten programs or cut other school and classroom services. Real progress was made in the House budget, with Representatives voting to restore the program to $18.6 million. However, the SW&M budget would reduce the program down to $1 million. We strongly support restoring Kindergarten Development Grants to at least the fiscal 2015 post-9C level of $18.6 million, and are asking Senators to also consider restoring the program to the original $23.9 million level.

• Please ask your Senators to Support Amendment 549 filed by Senator Joyce and Amendment 613 filed by Senator Hedlund and others to level fund this account at the fiscal 2015 appropriation.

Circuit Breaker for English Language Learners
One of the many lessons learned from the six public hearings held by the Foundation Budget Review Commission last year and into this Spring is that cities and towns struggling to meet the educational needs of an increasing number of students with special needs separate from special education programs. This includes low-income and English language learner (ELL) students.

• Please ask your Senators to Support Amendment 550 filed by Senator Fattman that would establish a “circuit breaker” program for English language learners, laying the foundation for future financial assistance from the Commonwealth.


KEY BUDGET AMENDMENTS ON MUNICIPAL AID PROGRAMS AND MUNICIPAL MANAGEMENT POLICY

Payments-in-Lieu-of-Taxes (PILOT)
The Payment-in-Lieu-of-Taxes (PILOT) program 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. This account is underfunded at $26.77 million this year, and is still below fiscal 2008 funding. Many of our state’s smallest communities rely heavily on PILOT payments, and shortfalls in this account have a significant impact on their ability to deliver basic municipal services. House One and S. 3would level fund PILOT at $26.77 million.

• Please ask your Senators to Support Amendment 101 filed by Sen. Hedlund to add $3.5 million to increase PILOT payments to cities and towns, and bring the account up to $30.3 million.

Shannon Anti-Gang Grants
• The Shannon Grant program has been very effective in enabling cities and towns to respond to and suppress gang-related activities. Please ask your Senators to Support Amendment 697 filed by Sen. Donoghue to increase funding for the Shannon anti-gang grant program. This amendment would add $2 million and bring total funding up to $8 million, which is the original fiscal 2015 appropriation.

Safe and Successful Youth Initiative
• Please ask your Senators to Support Amendment 813 , filed by Sen. Chang-Diaz to increase funding of the Safe and Supportive Youth Initiative from $5 million to $7.58 million. The program seeks to reduce youth violence through wrap-around services for those most likely to be victims or perpetrators, and is vital to violence prevention efforts in dozens of communities.

Summer Jobs for At-Risk Youth
• Please ask your Senators to Support Amendment 428 filed by Sen. Wolf to increase funding for youth summer jobs from $11.5 million to $12 million. This funding is critical to providing employment opportunities for at-risk teenagers in our cities and towns, especially with youth unemployment rates climbing.

Protection of Municipal Emergency Medical Services
• Please ask your Senators to Support Amendment 775 filed by Sen. Donnelly that would prevent the practice of “pay the patient,” by insurance companies, which undermines the ability of cities and towns to fund and operate responsive and efficient ambulance services that are at the core of emergency medical services in Massachusetts. “Pay the patient” would force communities to pursue their own residents to recoup thousands of dollars in ambulance expenses, a system that is inefficient and subject to abuse. Amendment 775 would also clarify that municipalities are authorized to set a fair rate for ambulance services. Cities and towns set fees and charges for a wide variety of municipal services very strictly limited by state law to the cost of providing the service. This is the same rule that would apply to rate setting for emergency ambulance services. It would ensure that rates are reasonable and prevent insurance companies from shifting costs to local property taxpayers through below-cost reimbursements.

Funding for the State Rehabilitation Tax Credit
• Please ask your Senators to Support Amendment 17 filed by Senators Moore and Tarr. This amendment would increase the capitalization of the State Historic Tax Credit Fund from $50 million to $75 million, bolstering the adaptive reuse of historic buildings in communities across the state and providing an important piece of project financing for many rehabilitative developments.

Closing the Online Room Reseller Tax Loophole
• Please ask your Senators to Support Amendment 23 filed by Senator Montigny to ensure equitable taxation of hotel rooms purchased through online room resellers. Because of a glaring loophole, when a hotel reservation is made through an online hotel room reseller, the tax that is collected is based on an artificially low room rate, not on the room rate that the consumer actually pays. This amendment would ensure that internet resellers cannot avoid collecting and submitting the full state and local room occupancy excise tax based on the actual room rate charged to the consumer. Eliminating this loophole will ensure a level playing field for all parties.

Closing the Vacation Rental Tax Loophole
• Please ask your Senators to Support Amendment 70 filed by Senator Wolf to modernize the room occupancy tax. This amendment would make the lodging excise applicable to short-term or seasonal lodging rentals in private homes or other similar accommodations. Such short-term rentals have become increasingly popular and common with the expansion of the sharing economy and the advent of online booking sites like Airbnb for such rooms. As with the room reseller issue, eliminating this glaring loophole will provide a level playing field in the lodging industry, and ensure that the existing room occupancy tax is fairly applied in all appropriate instances.

KEY BUDGET AMENDMENTS ON CAPITAL SPENDING PRIORITIES

Community Preservation Act Funding
During fiscal 2015, 156 cities and towns collected the local Community Preservation Act (CPA) surcharge and are eligible for state matching grants in fiscal 2016. The Division of Local Services (DLS) estimates that the balance in the state trust fund will be sufficient to provide a first round match of only 18 percent of the surcharge levied by each city and town. This would be the lowest state match in the program’s history.

• Please ask your Senators to Support Amendment 54 filed by Senator Creem and others and Amendments 1 and 65 filed by Senators Tarr and Hedlund that would dedicate a portion of any fiscal 2015 year-end state budget surplus, up to $25 million, to supplement the fiscal 2016 state match. The fiscal 2014 state match was supplemented by $25 million from the fiscal 2013 year-end surplus, and $11.4 million was made available last year from the fiscal 2014 surplus.

Please Call Your Senators Today on the Budget Amendments that Impact Your Community!

Thank You!


 

MMA on pothole $

This alert from the Mass. Municipal Assoc. –


 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

BAKER ADMINISTRATION TO PROVIDE CITIES AND TOWNS WITH $30 MILLION FOR POTHOLE AND WINTER RECOVERY EFFORTS

$30 MILLION IN ONE-TIME AID TO BE AVAILABLE AND ALLOCATED THROUGH CHAPTER 90 FORMULA

The Baker Administration announced today that it has established a “Winter Recovery Assistance Program” that will provide cities and towns with $30 million in funding this spring to repair potholes and other damage to roads, bridges and signs caused by the punishing winter.

“This winter’s record-setting snowfall has left our cities and towns with a major maintenance deficit that needs to be addressed immediately,” Lt. Governor Polito said in a statement on Thursday. “This program provides municipalities with additional resources to accelerate those repairs and make our roadways safer for everyone.”

The $30 million for cities and towns will be allocated to municipalities using the Chapter 90 formula. The program will allow municipalities to seek reimbursement on expenditures related to potholes, pavement cracking, surface defects, paving projects, guardrails, storm drains, line striping, and repair or replacement of damaged signs.

MassDOT officials have outlined the following details: 1) the program will be implemented this month, with all qualifying work completed by June 30, 2015; 2) the department will issue one-time contracts with municipalities allowing them to draw down their share of the $30 million for the specific purpose of road and facility repairs; 3) these contracts will include a “use it or lose it” clause to ensure that funds are spent and projects are completed by June 30; and 4) all work invoices must be provided to MassDOT by July 31, 2015 and MassDOT will reimburse cities and towns as invoices are received.

Cities and towns will be receiving official notification and information on this program within the next several days.  Click here to view the WRAP apportionment list and rules and regulations, which detail how the $30 million will be apportioned to each city and town.

This year’s harsh winter has damaged local roads, generated countless potholes and placed a huge burden on local taxpayers as municipal leaders work to shore up their crumbling roadways. Communities will put these funds to immediate use rebuilding and repairing roads, equipment and facilities in every corner of Massachusetts, which will save money, help our economy and improve public safety.

This is very good news for cities and towns, and the MMA applauds Governor Baker, Lt. Governor Polito, Secretary Pollack and MassDOT for this important program!

MMA on road $

March 12, 2015

GOV. BAKER FILES $200M CHAPTER 90 BOND BILL
Combined with the $100M Released in January, this 1-Year Bill Would Provide Cities and Towns with a Total of $300M in Chapter 90 Funds for the 2015 Construction Season

Earlier this afternoon, Gov. Charlie Baker filed a one-year $200 million Chapter 90 bond bill for fiscal 2016, and asked legislators to approve the bill quickly so that cities and towns will have access to the money at the start of the construction season.

If the bond bill passes in the next several weeks, combined with the $100 million in new Chapter 90 authorizations the Governor released in January, cities and towns will have access to a total of $300 million to repair and maintain local roads during the 2015 spring-to-fall construction season.

With the state working to erase a $1 billion mid-year budget deficit in fiscal 2015, and a $1.8 billion structural budget gap for fiscal 2016, the Baker-Polito Administration decided to file a one-year Chapter 90 bond bill. Swift passage of the bond bill will ensure that cities and towns can access a total of $300 million in new Chapter 90 funds without delaying the start of the construction season.

The Chapter 90 program provides cities and towns with vital funding to maintain, repair and rebuild 30,000 miles of local roads in every corner of the state. Adequate and timely funding is essential for the growth of our economy and to ensure safe and passable roadways for residents, businesses and visitors.

Immediately after passage of this one-year bond bill, the MMA and local officials will work in partnership with the Administration and legislators to achieve long-range progress and funding for Chapter 90 that is both adequate for cities and towns and sustainable for the Commonwealth.

SWIFT ACTION ON CHAPTER 90 IS NECESSARY TO PREVENT COSTLY AND UNNECESSARY DELAYS IN THE CONSTRUCTION SEASON

PLEASE CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVES AND SENATORS TODAY AND ASK THEM TO ENACT THE $200 MILLION CHAPTER 90 BOND BILL BY APRIL 1 AT THE LATEST

Baker to MMA

The State House News Service got the quote from Governor Baker more accurately than I did on Friday.  It is encouraging that the Gov seems so focused on making the state-town relationship work better.  I am looking forward to learning more about the “community compacts.” –


BAKER PLEDGES STRONG TIES TO MUNI LEADERS

[Story Developing] After pledging on the campaign trail to boost local aid in lockstep with growing state revenues, Gov. Charlie Baker told local officials Friday in a major address that he’s creating a community compact cabinet.

The cabinet and the new position, located within the Department of Revenue, was created through the first executive order of Baker’s new administration.

The cabinet, headed by Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, will “reduce red tape” and lead to “community compacts,” Baker said in a speech to 900 members of the Massachusetts Municipal Association. “These compacts will create clear mutual standards, expectations and accountability,” he said.

On the campaign trail, Baker pledged to boost local aid in lockstep with growing state revenues. He is due to file his first budget for fiscal year 2016 by early March.

Baker on Friday noted the deficit in the fiscal 2015 budget, which he has estimated at $765 million.

“I would call it challenging, I don’t think it’s any more than that,” Baker said, adding that in 1991 while coming into government as a part of Gov. William Weld’s administration, “We faced a similar budget deficit on a more smaller budget overall and worked our way through that.” – Gintautas Dumcius/SHNS

MMA meeting Friday & Saturday

I am attending the Massachusetts Municipal Association’s annual meeting for the next two days, which has the following schedule.  I am cheap enough that I just drive home at night and I am not willing to pay go to the dinners.  Let me know if there are programs that you think I should make sure to attend, especially for the concurrent workshops:


Friday, January 23, 2015
8 a.m.-5 p.m Conference Registration
9:30-11 a.m.
Hynes, Hall C foyer, 2nd floor
Opening Session
Keynote Speaker: Mike Walsh Hynes, Ballroom B, 3rd floor
11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Municipal Trade Show
Hynes, Hall C & Auditorium
Noon-1 :30 p.m.
WEMO Luncheon (preregistration required)
Speaker: Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito Hynes, Ballroom C, 3rd floor
2-3:30 p.m.
CONCURRENT WORKSHOPS – Friday session
• Emergency Planning for People, Pets and Property
• Executing the Business of Towns Through Board Collaboration: A Case Example
•Going Green: Getting Energy Efficiency Right
•Labor Law Update
• Lessons and Landmines: Navigating Interviews and Internal Investigations
• Roofs, Roads, Runoffs and Regulations: New Standards for Treating Stormwater and Drinking
Water
• Select Developments and Initiatives in Municipal Finance Law and Administration
• Seven Minutes with a Highly Effective Manager
• The CPA: What Makes It Great
•The Value of Creativity: Cultural Assets as Economic Drivers
Hynes, 2nd floor meeting rooms
3:45-5: 15 p.m.
EMERGING ISSUES FORUMS
•Driving Economic Development: What Matters to the Private Sector
•Modernizing Personnel Benefits: Sustainability and Flexibility for Cities and Towns
• Understanding the Opioid Crisis in Our Communities
Hynes, 3rd floor meeting rooms
6-7 p.m.
Opening Reception
Sheraton, Constitution Ballroom foyer, 2nd floor
7-9 p.m.
Banquet Dinner, MMA President’s Address
Special guest: Peter Sagal
(Preregistration required) Sheraton, Grand Ballroom, 2nd floor
Saturday, January 24, 2015
8 a.m.-3:30 p.m Conference Registration
7:30-8:30 a.m.
Member Associations Breakfast
Hynes, Ballroom B, 3rd floor
Hynes, Hall C foyer, 2nd floor
BUSINESS MEETINGS FOR MEMBER ASSOCIATIONS
8:30-10 a.m. • Massachusetts Municipal Councillors’ Association Hynes, room 306
8:30-10 a.m. •Massachusetts Selectmen’s Association Hynes, Ballroom C, 3rd floor
8:30-10 a.m. • Massachusetts Mayors’ Association Hynes, room 300
8:30-10 a.m. • Massachusetts Municipal Management Association Hynes, room 304
10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Municipal Trade Show
Hynes, Hall C & Auditorium
I 0: 15-11 :50 a.m. MMA Annual Business Meeting
(incl. President’s Address) Hynes, Ballroom A, 3rd floor
11 :50 a.m.-noon
MMA Board of Directors Meeting: Election of Officers
Hynes, Ballroom A, 3rd floor
noon-I :30 p.m.
MIIA Luncheon and Business Meeting (by reservation only)
Hynes, Ballroom B, 3rd floor
2-3:30 p.m.
CONCURRENT WORKSHOPS – Saturday session
• Best Practices for Interacting With the Mentally Ill
•Everything You Want to Know About STIP
• Financial Trend Monitoring and Revenue Forecasting
• Housing that Fits: Meeting the Needs of Your Community
• Infrastructure Financing Programs: How to Pay for Improvements and Innovation
•How to Be Successful at the Joint Labor-Management Committee
• Municipal and Open Meeting Law Update
•New Rules for Improving Veterans’ Services
• Underwater: Financing New Regulations
•Unfunded Mandates
Hynes, 2nd floor meeting rooms
3:45-5 p.m. Closing Session Speaker:
Michael Beschloss Hynes, Ballroom A, 3rd floor
6-7:15 p.m.
Presentation oflnnovation, Municipal Website and Town Report Awards; President’s Reception
Sheraton, Constitution Ballroom, 2nd floor
7: 15-9: 15 p.m.
Annual Banquet (preregistration required)
Entertainment: Under the Streetlamp
Sheraton, Grand Ballroom, 2nd floor

MMA annual meeting in two weeks

I will again attend two days of the Massachusetts Municipal Association’s annual meeting, in an effort to gain and bring back new ideas to Medfield.  This from the MMA today  –


 

Monday, January 12, 2015

GOV. CHARLIE BAKER TO ADDRESS ANNUAL MEETING
Governor will Speak at the Opening Session on Friday, Jan. 23
Register Today to Hear the Governor’s Speech to Municipal Leaders

Governor Charlie Baker will address local officials from every corner of the state at the opening session of the MMA’s Annual Meeting and Trade Show on Friday morning, January 23rd. This will be our new Governor’s first address to municipal leaders since taking the oath of office last week.

Governor Baker is off to a fast start, having released $100 million in Chapter 90 funds on his first day in office, and pledging to protect local aid from further cuts as the state grapples with a massive mid-year budget deficit. By attending the opening session of Annual Meeting at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, January 23, you will hear the latest from Governor Baker on his plans for a strong state-local partnership.

The MMA’s Annual Meeting will take place at the Hynes Convention Center and Sheraton Boston Hotel, and it is a must-attend event! You will hear many other distinguished speakers on key municipal and national issues, too. Choose from 20 information-packed educational workshops. Attend emerging issues forums on the opioid addiction crisis, economic development and modernizing employee benefits. Take advantage of invaluable networking opportunities. Attend the largest trade show in New England, there’s no better way to launch 2015 and prepare for the challenges ahead.

The line-up of renowned speakers is impressive. In addition to Gov. Charlie Baker, our opening session keynote speaker will be futurist and business leader Mike Walsh at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, January 23. Newly elected Lt. Governor Karyn Polito will be the WEMO luncheon speaker at noon. The Friday evening dinner speaker is Peter Sagal of NPR’s Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me! U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren will address the members at the MMA’s Annual Business Meeting on Saturday, January 24. The closing session will feature renowned presidential historian and author Michael Beschloss. The Annual Meeting’s Saturday dinner will feature the original Jersey Boys, now performing as Under the Streetlamp. Top state officials and legislators will be present through the conference, meeting with local officials on major issues.

House speaker says ‘no” to municipal cuts

From the Massachusetts Municipal Association –


November 20, 2014

SPEAKER DeLEO REJECTS $25.5 MILLION MUNICIPAL AID CUT

On Thursday morning, less than 24 hours after Governor Deval Patrick filed legislation to impose a $25.5 million mid-year cut in Unrestricted General Government Aid, House Speaker Robert DeLeo issued a strong statement in opposition to the measure.

“Understanding the vital role cities and towns play in providing services and jobs, I will not support a reduction of unrestricted local aid,” said Speaker DeLeo.  “Local aid is integral to helping municipalities accurately assess and plan their budgets so they can contribute to the overall growth of the Commonwealth’s economy.”

The Speaker’s opposition to mid-year cuts to local aid will effectively kill the proposal for the remainder of the legislative session.  “This is very good news for communities across Massachusetts,” said MMA Executive Director Geoff Beckwith.  “We applaud and deeply appreciate the leadership of Speaker DeLeo and his colleagues in the Legislature for rejecting the Administration’s unwise and damaging proposal to slash unrestricted municipal aid.”

On Wednesday, November 19, the Governor announced his desire to close a $329 million state budget deficit by imposing over $65 million in mid-year cuts to cities and towns.  He used his statutory budget authority to reduce key municipal and education reimbursements and aid programs by $40.3 million, and filed legislation seeking a $25.5 million reduction in unrestricted local aid.  Speaker DeLeo’s opposition to the cut in unrestricted local aid will block that proposal, yet communities will still be hit with the $40.3 million reduction because the Governor Patrick can implement those cuts unilaterally without legislative approval.

The Governor’s $40.3 million in mid-year cuts to key municipal and education programs includes the following:

  • $18.7 million from regional school transportation, a 27% cut;
    • $7.1 million from the regionalization and efficiencies reserve, which will shelve most, if not all, of the Community Innovation Challenge Grant program;
    • $3.86 million from the Special Education Circuit Breaker program, a 1.5% cut;
    • $2.88 million from the Chapter 70 “Pothole” account, an 85% cut;
    • $2.24 million from vocational school transportation, a 100% cut;
    • $1.3 million from public school military mitigation grants, a 100% cut;
    • $1.2 million from charter school reimbursements, a 1.5% cut in a program that is already underfunded by $33 million;
    • $1.1 million from sewer rate relief funding, a 100% cut;
    • $1 million from extended learning time grants, a 6.8% cut;
    • $359 thousand from kindergarten expansion grants, a 1.5% cut;
    • $287 thousand from METCO, a 1.5% cut; and
    • $283 thousand from library aid, a 1.5% cut.

Every city, town and school district will be hit with one or more of these cuts.  In most cases, the cuts will feel deeper because the reductions are being implemented five months into the fiscal year.