Dear Senator,

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 Senate takes up the fiscal 2021 state budget recommendation (S. 4) released by the Senate 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 Senate 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 have limited our comments in this letter to the most important accounts and policy items from the list of 473 amendments. We have noted amendments that we support to help maintain the stability of local government and 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 Amendments:

Support Amendment #3 related to post-retirement work during the pandemic. This amendment 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.

Support Amendment #22 to add funding to the COVID-19 impact municipal grant program (1599-1233). This amendment would provide $500,000 for municipal grants related to public health and community recovery costs related to COVID-19.

Support Amendment #24 that would add funding to the Community Compact program (1599-0026).

Support Amendment #132 to fund, at $3 million, a grant program to provide rural school assistance grants. This amendment would provide cities, towns, regional school districts, and other entities with grants to support 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.

Support Amendments #26 and #434 that would provide cities and towns with tools to help local businesses that hold certain liquor licenses. Amendment #26 would allow a voluntary temporary surrender by a licensee of the privileges granted by the license to provide a moratorium on all administrative rule and statutory licensing requirements during the time the license is listed in “safekeeping.” Amendment #434 would allow cities and towns to temporarily extend the issuance of certain seasonal licenses through March 31, 2021.

Support Amendment #159 that would establish a PFAS Commission. This commission would ensure that all stakeholders have a chance to share information as recommendations and policies are developed on how to identify and manage PFAS contamination of water supplies.

Please Oppose These Outside Section Amendments:

Oppose Amendment #61 and Amendment #330 on Contagious Disease Presumption. These amendments would impose a new and costly contagious disease presumption in state retirement law (Chapter 32) for police, fire and EMS employees. The MMA is not aware of any actuarial analysis of the proposal, and we are deeply concerned about the cost to communities and taxpayers.

Oppose Amendment #219: SAPHE Standards and Sustainable Funding Report. This amendment would impose a broad set of public health service responsibilities at the local level without adequate analysis of the scope of services, or the cost to cities and towns and any state revenue available to support the mandated expansion of services.

Oppose Amendment #342 and Amendment #360: Expanded Sick Leave. These amendments would expand sick leave benefits for all employees and would impose a new cost on cities and towns.

Oppose Amendment #366: Offsite Fabrication. This amendment would create a costly expansion of the prevailing wage law that would substantially increase the cost of public construction projects.

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