The Senate yesterday passed a supplemental budget bill to close the books on fiscal 2019, with additional funding for a range of local programs and projects, including education, roads and water.

Differences between the Senate bill and the one passed by the House a week earlier will have to be resolved quickly, with pressure building to get a final bill to the governor. The state comptroller faces an annual deadline of Oct. 31 to file the year-end financial report.

Both the House and Senate use a portion of the state’s substantial year-end surplus to add to the state stabilization fund, and would cover shortfalls in a number of fiscal 2019 state budget accounts and provide extra funding for important capital programs.

The House and Senate budget bills both include the following:

Municipal capital programs
• $60 million for grants to cities and towns for the construction and improvement of municipal ways as a supplement to the Chapter 90 program. (Last year’s budget act to close out fiscal 2018 provided $40 million in additional municipal road funds.)
• $8.4 million to help cities and towns address local drinking water contamination by per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), including water supply testing and grants to cover treatment, a targeted $20 million transfer to the Massachusetts Clean Water Trust to help remediate PFAS contamination
• A $35 million transfer to the Clean Water Trust to help finance improvements to local water systems

Municipal and school aid programs
• $2 million for the special education circuit breaker program, which would bring fiscal 2019 to full funding for the state’s share of this important program
• Additional funding for student transportation in regional school districts, which would bring state funding closer to the full funding mark
• $4 million for the Municipal Regionalization Reserve to help cities and towns develop best practices in vital areas, such as cybersecurity
• $5 million to help cover the cost of spraying to reduce the risk of Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE)

House-Senate differences
The House included $2 million for student transportation reimbursements for homeless students under the federal McKinney-Vento Act, while the Senate did not.

The House also added $17.5 million to close the fiscal 2019 shortfall for charter school reimbursements to school districts, an item that was not in the bill originally filed by the governor and was not added by the Senate.

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