MMA members endorse 2 policy resolutions

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The MMA membership on Jan. 23 unanimously endorsed two policy resolutions on key issues: local aid and environmental issues.
 
The resolutions send an important message to state leaders about municipal priorities and will guide the MMA’s work in the year ahead.
 
The first – Resolution Ensuring a Strong and Enduring Fiscal Partnership Between Cities and Towns and State Government in Fiscal 2017 and Beyond – was developed by the MMA’s Fiscal Policy Committee. It includes priorities voiced by local officials from all parts of the state on municipal and school aid, local-option revenues, unfunded mandates, and many other areas where state and local governments intersect.
 
The resolution points out that adequate and stable state revenue sharing through the Cherry Sheet and targeted appropriations and grant programs is absolutely necessary to ensure healthy and strong cities and towns. It also calls on the state to fulfill its funding commitments on items such as special education, school transportation, out-of-district vocational education, the transportation of homeless students, PILOT, and charter school reimbursements.
 
The resolution calls on the state to move quickly to phase in the recommendations of the Foundation Budget Review Commission to update the Chapter 70 “foundation budget” minimum adequate spending standards for special education and health insurance for school employees, and to add to the spending standard recognition for the cost of services for low-income, English Language Learner (ELL) and other students who would benefit from more intensive services.
 
The resolution also requests a $300 million per year Chapter 90 local road and bridge program, indexed to grow with inflation, and support for new flexibility to adopt local-option taxes and other revenues.
 
The second resolution – Resolution Supporting a Strong and Enduring Local-State-Federal Partnership to Protect the Environment – was proposed by the MMA Policy Committee on Energy and the Environment.
 
Highlights of this resolution include the following:
 
• Opposition to any proposals by the state or federal government that contain unfunded mandates or preemption of municipal taxing or revenue authority.
 
• Support for the requirement that a fiscal note – including a cost-benefit analysis for communities – accompany any legislation proposed by the Executive Branch or Legislature.
 
• Support for a $1 billion water infrastructure bond bill, which would fund water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure improvements across the state and give authority to communities to establish water banks to build, maintain and repair their water, stormwater and sewer infrastructure systems.
 
• Support for the examination of the Department of Environmental Protection obtaining delegated authority over the enforcement of National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System programs (e.g., MS4).
 
• Support for the development of a long-term energy plan for Massachusetts that is sustainable and diversified, including raising the net metering cap.
 
• Support for restored funding of the Drinking Water and Clean Water state revolving fund programs to fiscal 2010 levels.
 
• Support for funding and assistance by the state and federal government for coastal communities to mitigate the cost of issues caused by pollution and rising sea levels.
 
The resolutions were developed over the summer and fall by MMA policy committees comprising local officials from across the state, and they were endorsed in November by the MMA Board of Directors.
 
Some 300 officials representing their individual municipalities voted on the resolutions at the MMA’s Annual Business Meeting in Boston.
 
While discussion was welcomed during the Annual Business Meeting, the policy committees that drafted the resolutions also solicited member comments for a four-week period prior to the meeting.
 
The full resolutions can be found at www.mma.org under Advocacy.