Sunday, April 14, 2019

MA House Ways and Means Budget released April 10

"To the Members of the Massachusetts House of Representatives: 
With this document, the House Committee on Ways and Means presents its recommendations for the Fiscal Year 2020 General Appropriations Act. The Committee’s proposal makes fiscally responsible decisions and targeted investments that allow the Massachusetts economy to continue to grow and diversify. This is a budget that funds the commitments of our present and invests in the promise of our future. 
For much of FY 2019, the Commonwealth’s tax collections have varied considerably. In November of 2018 the State’s returns were $400 million above the benchmarks agreed to during the Consensus Revenue process. By the end of February of 2019 the State’s returns were nearly $300 million below benchmarks. This swing is likely due to volatility in the stock market, the 24 day shutdown of the Federal government, and recent changes to the Federal tax code. While our economy remains strong and our overall fiscal situation is strong, going into Fiscal Year 2020 we must remain cautious with the understanding that the revenue picture remains unclear. 
This budget delivers on our shared commitment to the cities and towns we represent. It provides a $29.6 million increase to Unrestricted General Government Aid (UGGA) and over $235 million in increased funding for Chapter 70 education aid. This is also a budget that recognizes that local aid goes beyond those two accounts, and continues to make investments in funding for Regional School Transportation and the state’s share of the Special Education Circuit Breaker. 
This budget would also reform the way that local school districts receive transitional aid as a result of students who switch to a charter school. These reforms will result in quicker, more reliable funding from the State with no loss in actual funds."

Continue reading the Chairman's Letter

For those closely following the MA budget cycle, this is the second major step in the process. The Governor issues his budget in January (H1). This is the Ways and Means budget. The Senate will release their budget approx. in May. After the House and Senate have each finalized their versions, both get together in Conference to work out the 'final' budget that goes to the Governor for his approval theoretically before July 1, 2019.

This House Ways and Means budget is usually more than the Governors' budget and what Franklin looks for to use for their own calculations on our local budget. This tends to be closer to the 'final' amount we can count on (but stay tuned for changes up or down in some of the amounts as the work in the Legislature continues).

the MA budget cycle
the MA budget cycle

In the Executive Summary section

"The House Committee on Ways and Means budget proposal invests significantly in aid to cities and towns across the Commonwealth. For FY 2020, the Committee proposes increasing the Unrestricted General Government Aid by $29.7M to $1.129B. The Committee also proposes funding Chapter 70 aid to school districts at $5.125B, a $218 M increase over the FY19 GAA. Acknowledging the significant costs that districts face, the Committee invests $73.8M for regional school transportation, and also increases district aid for charter school payments to $113M, a $23M increase over FY19 GAA, while modernizing the funding formula to better align dollars with need.
  • Provides $1.129B for UGGA
  • Provides $5.125B for Chapter 70 aid
  • Provides $329M for Circuit Breaker Special Education reimbursement
  • Provides $73.9M for Regional School Transportation reimbursement
  • Provides $113M for Charter School reimbursement"
House Committee on Ways and Means budget proposal - Executive Summary
House Committee on Ways and Means budget proposal - Executive Summary
While the increases are good, they won't solve Franklin's problem with the School budget shortfall

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