The Senate yesterday evening approved a $49.68 billion state budget bill for fiscal 2023 that would increase discretionary local aid by 5.4% and proposes $60 per student in minimum new Chapter 70 aid.

With a deadline looming, the Senate bill includes a provision to extend authorization for remote local government meetings.

The budget passed by the Senate (S. 4) had few changes from the recommendation released by the Senate Ways and Means Committee on May 10, which proposed increases in Unrestricted General Government Aid, Chapter 70 education aid, charter school reimbursements, the Special Education Circuit Breaker account, and payments in lieu of taxes for state-owned land.

During three days of budget deliberations, senators considered more than 1,100 amendments, adopting just a fraction of them.

The Senate did approve an amendment to increase Rural School Aid from $4 million to $5.5 million. An amendment to fully fund the regional school transportation account was not adopted.

The Senate budget would increase Unrestricted General Government Aid by $63 million, doubling the increase proposed by the governor in January and approved by the House in April.

The Senate budget would increase Chapter 70 education aid by $494.9 million over this year, for a total of $5.99 billion. The funding level would continue to fund the Student Opportunity Act on the intended schedule.

In recognition of the challenges faced by 135 school districts due to receive only minimum new aid, the Senate bill would double the per-pupil minimum aid amount from $30 per student to $60, matching the increase in the House-adopted budget. (The governor’s budget had proposed $30.)

The Senate budget would increase payments-in-lieu-of-taxes for state-owned land to $45 million, a $10 million increase over this year.

The Division of Local Services will be posting preliminary Cherry Sheet numbers for cities, towns and regional school districts based on the Senate budget bill shortly.

The House and Senate are expected to quickly appoint a six-member conference committee to work out the differences between the House and Senate budget bills, with the objective of presenting a final legislative budget to the governor by the beginning of the fiscal year on July 1.

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