The Honorable Aaron M. Michlewitz, House Chair
The Honorable Denise C. Garlick, House Vice Chair
The Honorable Todd M. Smola, House Ranking Minority Member
The Honorable Michael J. Rodrigues, Senate Chair
The Honorable Cindy F. Friedman, Senate Vice Chair
The Honorable Patrick M. O’Connor, Senate Ranking Minority Member

Dear Chair Michlewitz, Chair Rodrigues, and Distinguished Members of the Fiscal 2021 State Budget Conference Committee,

On behalf of the cities and towns of the Commonwealth, the Massachusetts Municipal Association welcomes the opportunity to offer comments on the appropriation items and proposed law changes in the fiscal 2021 budget bills voted earlier this month by the House (H. 5151) and Senate (S. 2955), which are now before the budget conference committee.

We deeply appreciate the care given by the Legislature to close fiscal 2020 and complete the fiscal 2021 budget process in a way that stabilizes state and local government finances and operations. The carefully measured revenue and spending plans put forward by the House and Senate leadership are greatly appreciated in this very challenging time in our history.

We are grateful for the commitment made by legislative leaders and the Administration in July for minimum funding levels for the main municipal and school aid accounts. Cities and towns rely on Unrestricted General Government Aid (UGGA) and Chapter 70 education aid to balance local budgets and sustain vital local services. We appreciate that the House and Senate appropriations for these accounts are the same before the conference committee.

Appropriation Items

Charter School Mitigation Payments (7061-9010)
We support the appropriation in H. 5151 of $117.4 million to fund reimbursements to offset part of the impact on local school budgets of assessments used to fund charter schools. The House appropriation is closer to the preliminary full funding amount provided by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).

Special Education Circuit Breaker (7061-0012)
We support the appropriation in S. 2955 of $345.2 million that would cover the current DESE full funding estimate for this important school aid account. We appreciate that there is an amount in the FY20 close out budget act (Chapter 201) for this account that is carried forward into FY21 and that this might contribute to the full funding amount.

Reimbursement for Homeless Student Transportation (7035-0008)
We support the appropriation in H. 5151 of $13.5 million that is closer to the DESE full funding estimate.

Reserve for Municipal Improvements (1599-0026)
We support the appropriation and language in H. 5151 that would allocate $3 million for the District Local Technical Assistance Fund, and we support the appropriation and language in S. 2955 that would allocate $1 million for the best practices incentive program administered by the Community Compact Cabinet.

Rural School Assistance Grants (7061-9813)
We support the $3 million appropriation in S. 2955 for grants to rural school districts to improve the long-term operational efficiency and effectiveness of public schools.

COVID Impact Assistance (1599-1233 in S. 2955 and 7061-0027 in H. 5151)
We support the several important appropriations that would provide assistance to cities, towns and school districts to help maintain vital public health services and equipment and supply purchases after December 30, when the availability of the federally funded CARES Act funds expire for municipalities.

Outside Sections

Early Voting by Mail
We support Section 71 in S. 2955 that would provide for early voting by mail in state and municipal elections through June 30, 2021.

Public Employee Post Retirement Work During the Pandemic
We support Section 65 in S. 2955 that would extend into calendar year 2021 the waiver of the cap on hours worked and salary earned for retired public employees who return to work in the public sector.

PFAS Task Force
We support Section 48 in H. 5151 that would establish an interagency task force to review and investigate water and ground contamination of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) across the commonwealth.

On behalf of local leaders across the state, we offer our deep appreciation for your support for cities and towns during this worldwide emergency. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to have your office contact MMA Legislative Director John Robertson at at any time.

Thank you very much.


Geoffrey C. Beckwith
MMA Executive Director & CEO

cc: The Honorable Robert DeLeo, Speaker of the House
The Honorable Karen Spilka, Senate President