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Our members are the local governments of Massachusetts and their elected and appointed leadership.
The House and Senate budget committees announced an agreement today on fiscal 2022 funding levels for the main municipal and school aid accounts.
Senate Ways and Means Committee Chair Michael Rodrigues and House Ways and Means Committee Chair Aaron Michlewitz said that the budget committees’ recommendations would set Unrestricted General Government Aid at $1.17 billion, an increase of $39.5 million over the current year and the same amount proposed by the governor in the budget plan he filed in January.
The budget committee chairs also committed to funding Chapter 70 school aid at $5.5 billion — an increase of $219.6 million over the fiscal 2021 amount — which would fully fund one-sixth of the Student Opportunity Act implementation schedule. This was a priority request from the MMA and school groups at a budget hearing convened by the Ways and Means committees last month.
The local aid agreement is $22 million higher than the governor’s recommendation and reflects an acceleration of the Student Opportunity Act implementation schedule and higher foundation budget standards used in local contribution and aid calculations.
“This agreement provides certainty and predictability for our cities and towns, funds the first year of the Student Opportunity Act, and ensures we get back on schedule to fully implement the SOA by Fiscal Year 2027,” Rodrigues and Michlewitz said in a joint statement.
The budget committee plans will also include a $40 million school aid reserve to help account for the substantial disruption to the student enrollment count last year that was used to calculate school aid for fiscal 2022. There are no specific allocations from this account at the present time. An adjustment to enrollment counts was also a priority of the MMA at the budget hearing.
“Recognizing that many school districts across the state have experienced COVID-19 pandemic-related enrollment changes,” the chairs stated, “we have agreed to create an enrollment reserve fund to help stabilize school districts experiencing higher levels of enrollment and to support district needs, including transportation, instruction and materials, in a flexible way as kids return to in person classroom learning.
“As we move forward with our respective efforts to develop an FY 2022 budget, this agreement reflects our unwavering support for our students, our schools and our communities. We remain mindful that we have much to do as we work collaboratively with our colleagues and stakeholders in the coming weeks and months ahead.”
The House Ways and Means Committee budget is expected to be released next week, and the Senate budget committee typically releases its plan sometime in May.
Budget bills customarily list the main municipal and school aid numbers for individual cities, towns and school districts in Section 3.