MMA statement on the FY13 state budget bill released by the House Ways and Means Committee

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For Immediate Release

MMA Executive Director Geoff Beckwith today issued to following statement regarding the FY13 state budget bill released by the House Ways and Means Committee:

“Municipal leaders across the state are deeply grateful to Speaker Robert DeLeo, Chairman Brian Dempsey and the members of the House Ways and Means Committee for advancing an outstanding budget for cities and towns. Communities are struggling mightily to balance their budgets and fund essential services, and Speaker DeLeo, Chairman Dempsey and House leaders are embracing a powerful fiscal partnership to strengthen municipal finances and provide funds for public safety, education and other vital local programs.

“The House Ways and Means Committee’s budget proposal demonstrates that local aid is a top priority for the House of Representatives. The budget recommendations would increase fiscal 2013 municipal and education aid by approximately $105 million above the budget submitted by the Governor in January, a remarkable achievement that would benefit every community in Massachusetts.”

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According to the MMA’s initial analysis of the budget, the key proposals in the House Ways and Means budget recommendations include the following:

• Guaranteed funding for unrestricted municipal aid of $899 million, by adding $65 million to the base Cherry Sheet distribution, instead of relying on a tentative supplemental distribution later in the year

• Adding $18.5 million to Chapter 70 school aid to ensure that every city, town and school district receives an increase of at least $40 per student above current education aid levels

• Increasing Special Education reimbursements by $8.4 million, a significant addition that would benefit every community

• Providing $11.3 million for the transportation of homeless students under the McKinney-Vento Act, adding a new line item to reimburse cities and towns for the cost of this new mandate

• Increasing funding for regional school transportation reimbursements by $2 million, bringing funding up to $45.5 million