On Dec. 13, the governor signed legislation to close the books on fiscal 2019 that was delayed by protracted negotiations between the House and Senate.

Funding for the budget bill came from fiscal 2019 tax collections that ran approximately $1.1 billion ahead of projections.

The budget law shifts $587 million to the state’s stabilization account (also known as the “rainy day” fund), bringing the balance to $3.4 billion, and uses much of the remaining surplus for supplemental appropriations and funding for capital programs, including for cities, towns and school districts.

The final budget, Chapter 142 of the Acts of 2019, includes $20 million for grants to cities and towns for local road projects as a supplement to the Chapter 90 program. This additional appropriation is lower than the $60 million originally passed in separate House and Senate bills or the $40 million filed by the governor last fall.

The law includes $2.5 million for construction and repair of culverts and dams.

The law transfers $10.65 million to the Clean Water Trust to assist in the remediation of per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) contamination in local water systems and $9.05 million to help finance improvements to local water systems via the State Revolving Fund. The bill also includes $4.2 million to help cities and towns test for local drinking water contamination related to PFAS.

Key municipal and school aid funding
The law includes additional funding for the following accounts:

• $5 million for charter school reimbursements to school districts, bringing the final fiscal 2019 appropriation up to $95 million

• $5.19 million for student transportation in regional school districts: $2.5 million for fiscal 2019, which would bring state funding closer to the full funding mark, and $2.6 million set aside for use in funding the fiscal 2020 appropriation

• $2 million for the special education circuit breaker program, which would fully fund the state’s share of this program for fiscal 2019

• $2 million for student transportation reimbursements for homeless students under the federal McKinney-Vento Act

• $1.17 million for the Municipal Regionalization Reserve to help cities and towns develop best practices in vital areas, such as cybersecurity

The legislation also requires early voting in the 2020 presidential primary, with $625,000 available to fund a portion of the costs and $1.5 million to increase voter awareness. The law sets Sept. 1 as the date of the state primary election. The MMA will be advocating for full reimbursement of the expenses related to new early voting requirements.

Finally, the budget bill includes a number of earmarks for local programs. To review the status of any local projects or appropriations, view the bill text at malegislature.gov/Bills/191/H4246.

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