Who is a member?
Our members are the local governments of Massachusetts and their elected and appointed leadership.
The House Committee on Ways and Means has released a $49.6 billion state budget plan for fiscal 2023 that will be taken up by the full House later this month.
The budget bill released today matches the governor’s proposed 2.7% increase for Unrestricted General Government Aid ($31.5 million), but would significantly increase Chapter 70 school aid, charter school reimbursements, and the Special Education Circuit Breaker.
The House plan (H. 4700) would increase overall state expenditures by 4.2% over the current year’s budget, and reflects a 2.9% increase over the budget proposal filed by Gov. Charlie Baker in January (known as House 2).
House members must file budget amendments by 5 p.m. this Friday, and the House is scheduled to begin its budget debate on April 25. The House typically considers more than 1,000 amendments during its budget debate week.
The Division of Local Services has posted preliminary Cherry Sheet numbers for cities, towns and regional school districts based on the House Ways and Means budget proposal.
Unrestricted General Government Aid
The governor’s budget tied a proposed $31.5 million increase in UGGA to the projected rate of growth in state tax revenues. But the administration used a revised estimate for fiscal 2022 as its base, and the MMA has argued that the proposed increase does not reflect the actual — and far higher — increase in state tax collections.
The House Ways and Means budget, mirroring the governor’s plan, would provide a total of $1.19 billion for UGGA. The MMA will continue to advocate for increases as the budget process continues.
In line with House 2, the House Ways and Means proposal includes a $485 million increase in Chapter 70 education aid over the current fiscal year, for a total of $5.98 billion, which would continue to fund the Student Opportunity Act on the intended schedule. An additional $9.6 million line item in the House plan would raise the minimum new aid amount from $30 per student to $60 per student.
House Ways and Means is proposing a total of $243 million for Charter School Mitigation Payments, which represents an increase of $89.2 million over the current fiscal year and $24.4 million more than the governor’s budget proposal. This increase would fund 100% of the state’s statutory obligation for charter school mitigation payments as outlined in the Student Opportunity Act, phasing in full funding a year earlier than would be accomplished by House 2.
Special Education Circuit Breaker
The House Ways and Means proposal includes $440 million for the Special Education Circuit Breaker account, a $67 million increase over fiscal 2022. The Student Opportunity Act expanded the circuit breaker by including out-of-district transportation, phased in over three years. This total reflects years two and three of the intended schedule in the Student Opportunity Act, also bringing the state to full funding a year earlier than the governor’s proposed budget would.
School transportation and PILOT
The House Ways and Means budget, in line with the governor’s budget recommendation, would reduce regional school transportation aid from $82 million this year to $77 million.
The budget would increase funding for the transportation of homeless students under the federal McKinney-Vento program by $8.5 million, to $22.9 million.
The House Ways and Means budget does not have a line item for out-of-district vocational transportation, which last year was funded at $250,000.
The House Ways and Means proposal would level-fund payments-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) for state-owned land, at $35 million.
“It is clear that House leaders are prioritizing K-12 funding for cities and towns, as they advance an agenda to ensure stability following a time of uncertainty,” said MMA Executive Director Geoff Beckwith. “Bringing the per pupil increase from $30 to $60 is good news to many of the 42% of school districts that are minimum aid districts. We also appreciate the progress made in this spending proposal to address the impact of charter school tuitions on municipal and regional school districts, and to accelerate funding to deal with costly out-of-district transportation for special education students.”
During the budget debate and the remainder of the legislative session, the MMA will work to build on the House budget committee proposal by advocating for a further increase in Unrestricted General Government Aid and higher funding for regional school transportation, PILOT, and other key accounts.