Dear Representative,

On behalf of the cities and towns of the Commonwealth, the Massachusetts Municipal Association welcomes the opportunity to offer comments on the proposed amendments that will be before you tomorrow, when the House takes up the fiscal 2021 state budget recommendation (H. 5150) released by the House Committee on Ways and Means last week.

We very much appreciate the thought and deliberation by the Legislature to bring fiscal 2020 to a close and to complete the fiscal 2021 budget process in a way that stabilizes state and local government. The carefully measured revenue and spending plan put forward by House leadership is greatly appreciated in this very challenging time in our history.

We are deeply grateful for the July announcement made by legislative leaders and the Administration, committing that every community would receive at least level funding in the two major 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, and the timing of that commitment provided stability and certainty during very uncertain times. We are supporting targeted appropriation amendments to fund other important accounts, as outlined below.

We appreciate the counsel from Speaker DeLeo to avoid proposing major public policy issues in the budget bill. We have limited our comments in this letter to policy amendments that we strongly believe should not be added. We remain very worried about sustaining local government programs in fiscal 2022, and request that no budget amendments be adopted that would increase financial burdens on cities and towns and make next year more challenging than it is already expected to be.

Please Support These Appropriation Amendments:

Amendment #689 – MMA supports amendment #689 filed by Rep. Peisch that would fund the Special Education Circuit Breaker account (7061-0012) at $345.2 million. This is the amount needed to fully fund the state’s customary share of the cost of special education before the expansion included in the Student Opportunity Act.

Amendment #498 – MMA supports amendment #498 filed by Rep. Jones that would fund the municipal grant program (1599-0026) at $11.75 million, including $2 million for the highly successful Community Compact Cabinet program.

Amendment #60 – MMA supports amendment #60 filed by Rep. Kane and Rep. Cutler to fund the out-of-district vocational education student transportation account (7035-0006) at $3.6 million to help pay the cost of transporting students who elect to participate in vocational education outside of the local district.

Amendment #131 – MMA supports amendment #131 filed by Rep. Vieira to fund, at $1.3 million, a reserve account (7061-0033) to assist towns adversely affected by shortfalls in federal impact aid for the education of children in families employed by the federal government on military reservations located within the towns’ limits.

Amendment #541 – MMA supports amendment #131 filed by Rep. Blais to fund, at $10 million, a competitive grant program administered by the office of travel and tourism to provide tourism and cultural marketing funds to businesses and regional tourism councils for the purpose of promoting and advertising in-state tourism.

Amendment #603 – MMA supports amendment #603 filed by Rep. Blais to fund, at $3 million, a grant program to provide rural school assistance grants to cities, towns, regional school districts, and other entities to increase regional collaboration, consolidation or other strategies to improve the long-term operational efficiency and effectiveness of public schools; provided, that in awarding such grants, priority shall be given to proposals that support schools and districts that have experienced, or are experiencing, significant enrollment losses.

Please Oppose These Outside Section Amendments:

Amendment #23 Restricting Local Land Transfers – MMA strongly opposes this amendment, which would impose new procedural requirements and costs on cities and towns, and unnecessarily change an effective and accountable system for conservation land transfers based on Home Rule petitions.

Amendment #62 Imposing Local Public Health Services Standards – MMA strongly opposes this amendment, which would impose a broad set of public health service responsibilities at the local level without adequate analysis of the scope of services, the cost to cities and towns and the revenue available to support expansion of services.

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