Who is a member?
Our members are the local governments of Massachusetts and their elected and appointed leadership.
In an address to more than 1,000 local leaders in Boston this morning, Gov. Maura Healey outlined some key priorities — housing, economic development, and local aid topped the list — and promised that municipalities will be notified about key local aid accounts even before she files her first state budget on March 1.
“Today, as our teams are crunching all those numbers, we don’t have exactly what those figures are,” she said during the Opening Session of the MMA Annual Meeting. “But I promise you, as soon as our team has them, you will have them, and you will have them in advance of our filing.
“Know that we are big time committed to making sure that we are doing everything that we can to support local aid for our communities.”
Governors typically file their state budget bills in late January, but new administrations are granted an additional five weeks to file their spending plan.
Healey highlighted her administration’s first bill, a $987 million “immediate needs bond bill” filed yesterday that includes $400 million for the popular MassWorks Infrastructure Program and $9.3 million for broadband infrastructure, among other economic development and housing programs.
“This is just the start – immediate needs – more to come,” she said. “We’re going to continue, I promise, to work with our municipalities, to work with businesses, to work with the Legislature and other critical stakeholders to develop larger housing and economic development programs that will see their way to a bond bill for introduction later on in the session.”
Also yesterday, the governor filed a two-year, $400 million Chapter 90 bond bill to fund improvements to municipally owned roads and bridges across the Commonwealth. A multiyear bill has long been a priority for the MMA in order to help communities plan effectively and optimize the impact of the funding.
On education, Healey said she’s “committed to fully funding our schools as outlined by the [Student Opportunity Act], along with meeting the needs of charter school reimbursements, and you’ll see that in my budget.”
She said her administration will help districts with the costs of student transportation and would fully fund the McKinney-Vento program for transporting homeless students.
“We’ll support special education, particularly the circuit breaker program, to help maintain funding to help all school districts with the cost of these critical services,” she said. “And when it comes to welcoming migrant families with children in our communities, I will also file supplemental funding to ensure that they have access to the education and the support they need to learn and thrive, and that communities have the resources to make that happen.”
Healey said she wanted to work to improve the competitive position of Massachusetts and its communities to fight for federal dollars, and said the administration would be offering technical assistance to municipalities to help them win federal grants.
On housing, Healey said she would be filing an executive order today to create a working group, chaired by Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll, to determine how to set up a secretariat devoted to housing, and that she would soon file legislation to create a housing secretariat. (Healey is seeking to divide the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development into two distinct offices.)
“There are no easy solutions,” she said regarding the state’s housing crisis. “We need your partnership. We need your best ideas. And frankly, we need your courage, too. … We’ve got to be aggressive.”
Citing her connection to local government through her family, and Driscoll’s experience as a mayor, she stressed her administration’s commitment to working in partnership with cities and towns.
“We do want to do great things,” she said. “I just want to begin with a recognition that I know things are challenging out there right now. Our job in government is to be great partners with all of you, as we work through those challenges.
“We know that Massachusetts cannot move forward until and unless all of our cities and towns are strong, our families and our residents are supported, and our main streets are vibrant.
“I know that you’ve navigated seemingly insurmountable challenges the last few years, and you’ve pushed your way through to protect constituents, to rethink completely the way government services are provided. I have been so inspired by the resilience of all of you.”