Late yesterday, the House approved a $46 billion state budget plan for fiscal 2021 that is slightly higher than the revised recommendation filed by Gov. Charlie Baker last month.

Over two days of debate, the House approved four consolidated amendments that added less than $30 million to the recommendation released by the House Ways and Means Committee last week (H. 5150). House members added $250,000 for reimbursements for the cost of student transportation to out-of-district vocational education programs, but did not add to the major municipal and school aid programs.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee yesterday released a $46 billion state revenue and spending plan (S. 4) that is scheduled to be taken up next week, beginning on Tuesday, Nov. 17.

The Senate bill would fund the main municipal and school aid accounts largely in line with the House-approved bill and the governor’s revised recommendation, but with some differences in funding for special education circuit breaker reimbursements and charter school mitigation payments, which would have to be reconciled before a final bill can be sent to the governor.

The expectation is that the Legislature will enact a final budget bill by Thanksgiving.

Both the House-approved budget and the Senate Ways and Means recommendation would level-fund Unrestricted General Government Aid at $1.13 billion and provide $5.3 billion for Chapter 70 school aid, an increase of $107 million over fiscal 2020. Both of these items are consistent with the commitment that state leaders announced in late July. All cities, towns and school districts would receive at least the same amount of Chapter 70 aid as was allocated last year, with some slated to receive additional school aid due to normal updates to the foundation formula factors.

The Division of Local Services has updated preliminary Cherry Sheets for cities and towns and for regional school districts to reflect the amounts in the House and Senate budget bills.

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