The Honorable Jeffrey Sánchez
Chairman
House Committee on Ways and Means
State House, Boston

Dear Chairman Sánchez,

On behalf of the cities and towns of the Commonwealth, the Massachusetts Municipal Association is writing to support several important municipal provisions in the year-end fiscal 2018 supplemental budget bill (H. 4758) filed by the Governor on July 13. We also support provisions in earlier budget recommendations that would make much needed technical corrections to sections of the Municipal Modernization Act of 2016.

We ask that these provisions be approved by the House Committee on Ways and Means as soon as possible.

After two fiscal years where tax collections fell below expectations at the close of the year, it was a relief that fiscal 2018 collections grew by $2.2 billion (8.6 percent), and $1.1 billion over the benchmark. The expected deposit of nearly $500 million into the state’s Stabilization Fund is good news. The Governor has proposed to use a small part of the unanticipated tax revenue to supplement underfunded school aid accounts in fiscal 2018, and to provide one-time funding for infrastructure projects.

We strongly support the proposed appropriation of $40 million for grants to cities and towns for the construction and improvement of municipal ways (1595-6386) and $10 million for the municipal small bridge and complete streets programs (1595-6387). We support the $30 million transfer to the Clean Water Trust (1599-0093) to help pay for improvements to local water systems. This additional funding for local capital projects will help move local government closer to a state of good repair for local infrastructure, which will result in lower costs in the future.

We support the proposed appropriation of $12.5 million for the special education circuit breaker program. This would bring fiscal 2018 to full funding of the state’s share of this important program. We also support the $7.0 million appropriation for student transportation in regional school districts, which would bring state funding closer to the full funding mark. Funding for these programs was limited earlier in the year when the state revenue forecast was uncertain.

We also support the appropriation for targeted assistance to local school districts, including $40 million for multi-year grants to enhance behavioral health resources (7061-0010), $32.2 million for school safety (7009-6800) and $30 million for the targeted intervention program (7061-9408).

We support the appropriation of $375,000 for the Human Resources Division (1750-0928) that is needed for the revalidation of Civil Service examinations (including the municipal police and fire medical standards) and to lease space for the physical abilities test.

In addition, we ask you to support the technical corrections to the Municipal Modernization Act first proposed in the fiscal 2018 supplemental budget bill (H. 4231) that the Governor filed on February 8. Some of these are time-sensitive corrections needed to avoid financial problems at the local level, including section 18 related to the use of proceeds from the sale of real estate.

Please do not hesitate to have your office contact us at any time if you have any questions or need additional information.

Again, thank you very much for your support, dedication and commitment to the cities and towns of Massachusetts.

Sincerely,

Geoffrey C. Beckwith
Executive Director & CEO

cc: The Honorable Stephen Kulik, Vice Chair
The Honorable Todd M. Smola, Ranking Minority Party Member