"THE STATE HAS a $1.2 billion shortfall in aid promised to cities, towns, and school districts, Auditor Suzanne Bump concluded in a report released Thursday.
The report looked at several major categories of state aid and identified $711.4 million in unfunded mandates related to school aid; $448.3 million related to school transportation; and $103.3 million in government aid, mainly related to the Community Preservation Act.
“The state should be accountable to fulfill its funding obligations to cities and towns,” Bump said in an interview. “These are mandates that have long been on the books, and it just seems it’s easier to focus on the new and forget about the old.”
State law prohibits unfunded mandates, requiring the Legislature to fund anything it requires cities and towns to do. But practically, lawmakers have often ignored those obligations. For example, they regularly appropriate only a portion of mandated expenses for school transportation.
“Insufficient state appropriations or allocations have left programs underfunded, and some programs have seen financial obligations completely ignored despite a commitment under law,” the report says. "
|State Auditor Suzanne Bump|