Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito addresses local officials from across state during the MMA’s 40th Annual Meeting & Trade Show.

Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito addresses local officials from across state during the MMA’s 40th Annual Meeting & Trade Show.

The fiscal 2020 state budget bill that the governor will be filing next week will include a 2.7 percent increase in the main discretionary local aid account, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito announced this morning in an address to more than 1,000 local officials from across Massachusetts during the MMA Annual Meeting & Trade Show in Boston.

The increase in Unrestricted General Government Aid will match the projected rate of growth in state tax collections for fiscal 2020, a number that administration and legislative budget writers agreed to on Dec. 31. The administration’s proposed $30 million increase will bring the UGGA total to $1.129 billion.

The UGGA account is funded mainly from Lottery and other gaming revenues and is used locally to help pay for municipal services and to reduce reliance on the property tax. During his campaign in 2014, the governor said he would increase UGGA at the same rate as the growth in tax collections, a commitment he has honored now in each of his five budget proposals.

The lieutenant governor said the administration will announce its plans for the other main local aid account, Chapter 70 K-12 education aid, next week.

She also announced that the administration is filing a bond bill today with $200 million for the Chapter 90 local road and bridge program, a critical reimbursement program used by cities and towns to maintain basic infrastructure.

Polito added that the administration’s budget will include $2 million for the Community Compact best practices program and $2 million for the Efficiency and Regionalization grant program. Later this year, she said, the administration will announce a capital budget plan with $3 million for the information technology grant program.

Climate change and Municipal Modernization
Gov. Charlie Baker said his budget will contain a new proposed program to help the state and communities build resiliency to mitigate the effects of climate change. He said his budget will include a “modest increase” in the excise on real estate transfers to fund a “substantial and sustained investment” to protect residents, communities and infrastructure.

He said the new program would provide $75 million in fiscal 2020 – and $137 million on an annualized basis – for the Global Warming Solutions Trust Fund, which will support loans, grants and other assistance to communities. The funding would be made available to cities and towns to invest in infrastructure to protect public health, safety and property.

The governor also announced that he will be filing a third round of his treasured “weed whacking” bill – the so-called Municipal Modernization Act – to eliminate a wide range of outdated regulations and laws and help streamline municipal operations.

“And that is something that I think we’ll see some appetite for in the Legislature,” he said.

Polito, a former selectman from Shrewsbury who serves as the administration’s liaison to local governments, has spearheaded the Community Compact Initiative, launched on the governor’s first day in office in 2015, and has visited all 351 Massachusetts cities and towns.

“I come … feeling very honored to serve with all of you,” she said. “I’m proud that we all have worked so closely together, and we have a lot of good stuff to show for it.”

She said the Community Compact has resulted in 854 best practices across the state, and 220 communities have completed their first compacts. More than 90 communities have signed up for a second compact program.

The governor and lieutenant governor spoke during the opening session of the MMA Annual Meeting in Boston, a two-day event that has drawn a record-breaking 1,300 local officials from across the state.

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