a man speaks into a camera, gesturing with his hands

Gov. Charlie Baker speaks to hundreds of local officials from across the state during the MMA’s virtual Annual Business Meeting on Jan. 22.

Speaking to hundreds of local officials from across the state during the MMA’s virtual Annual Business Meeting this morning, Gov. Charlie Baker announced plans to file legislation next week seeking $200 million for the Chapter 90 local road maintenance program in fiscal 2023.

“We’ll try to get it done early enough for you to take advantage of it this summer,” he said, noting that his administration has released a total of $1.56 billion in funding so far through the Chapter 90 formula, and mentioning separate, targeted infrastructure grant programs such as Complete Streets and the Municipal Small Bridge Program.

Base Chapter 90 funding has remained flat at $200 million since 2012, however, and the MMA and local officials have been calling for an increase to $300 million per year, indexed to inflation, for quite some time.

The governor echoed an announcement made by Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito at yesterday’s MMA meeting that the administration’s state budget bill for fiscal 2023, due to be filed next Wednesday, will propose a 2.7% increase in unrestricted local aid.

During a question and answer period, Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller, the incoming president of the MMA, said local officials were expecting a bigger increase, one that better reflects the record-breaking state tax collections of the past two years. With local budgets constrained by higher inflation and a tight cap on property taxes, she said, “the 2.7% feels really tight for us.”

“We made a commitment to you and we honored it,” Baker replied, referring to the administration’s pledge to increase the Unrestricted General Government Aid account each year at the same rate as the consensus forecast for state revenue growth — a number announced last week for fiscal 2023. “If this number turns out to be too high, we’re not going to change it.”

Yesterday, MMA Executive Director Geoff Beckwith pointed out that state tax revenue growth is tracking at 22% above the original consensus revenue forecast for fiscal 2022. The MMA also provided its analysis to the administration last week.

The governor held firm, but said he’d be open to conversations later in the fiscal year, if revenues remain strong, about supplemental funding “to address things you have fixed costs on.” The MMA, meanwhile, said it would make its UGGA case with the Legislature as the budget process moves forward.

During the session, Fuller and MMA President Adam Chapdelaine expressed appreciation to the governor for his partnership with cities and towns, and praised his long-standing commitment to making the state-local relationship a positive one, even when policy differences emerge.

As former local officials themselves, Baker and Polito have made it a practice to meet with local officials at the MMA Annual Meeting, even when the pandemic has meant the meeting can’t be held in person, such as last year and this year.

“Thank you to the MMA and all the local officials across the state, for all of your hard work, your partnership, your honesty, your creativity, and your imagination over the course of the past seven years,” Baker said. “Our close relationship with municipalities … made a big difference when things got really rough during the COVID pandemic.

“There was a certain amount of earned trust there running in both directions. That provided a foundation for us to play through all the complexities that came with the pandemic.”

While the pandemic continues, the governor said the state “is in a much better position today when it comes to COVID” than it was a year ago, with 6.5 million Massachusetts residents having received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine, 80% of the eligible population being fully vaccinated, and 2.5 million residents having received vaccine boosters — or roughly half of those who are fully vaccinated.

With federal recovery aid pouring into the state, supplemented by a state COVID recovery appropriation, as well as ongoing challenges that date to pre-pandemic times, the governor said he looks forward to working alongside local leaders on an ambitious agenda in the time remaining in his second and final term.

“There’s a lot of opportunity there, and I hope we do all we can to take full advantage of it,” he said. “Let’s get a lot done in the next 10 or 11 months. A lot!”

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