After months of uncertainty regarding the depth of the state’s fiscal crisis, state leaders today announced a framework for protecting the two main sources of local aid in the state’s fiscal 2021 state budget.

According to a statement from Administration and Finance Secretary Michael Heffernan, the governor and Legislature are committing to no less than level funding of Unrestricted General Government Aid and Chapter 70 education aid as the baseline amount for fiscal 2021 for each community.

The MMA immediately applauded the local aid framework.

“This is very welcome news for cities and towns in every corner of Massachusetts,” said MMA Executive Director and CEO Geoff Beckwith. “With the state facing a budget shortfall of between $6 billion and $8 billion due to the COVID-19 recession, local leaders have been very concerned about the potential impact on local aid. Today, the governor, House and Senate have demonstrated that the state-local relationship is a true partnership.

“By protecting local aid during this crisis, the state will maintain vital financial support for cities and towns. With this key financial guidance, communities can finalize their fiscal 2021 budgets, allowing them to continue their work fighting the coronavirus pandemic and delivering the essential quality-of-life services that drive our economy. This framework will benefit every resident and business in the Commonwealth, and we are deeply grateful to Governor Baker and Lieutenant Governor Polito, Speaker DeLeo, President Spilka, House and Senate budget Chairs Michlewitz and Rodrigues, and their colleagues in the Legislature.”

Because of the difficulty in projecting tax collections, unanswered questions about whether the federal government will provide fiscal relief, and the unknown impact that the coronavirus will have this fall, the Legislature has enacted a bill to continue with a temporary budget through Oct. 31. The state had previously adopted a one-month budget for July, and has added a three-month extension. This will give lawmakers and the administration more time to gather information and shape their budget plans.

In an alert issued via the Division of Local Services, the Baker-Polito administration announced that House and Senate leaders and the governor would be protecting the two major local aid accounts, Unrestricted General Government Aid and Chapter 70, from cuts as they set the state’s fiscal 2021 budget later this fall.

They announced that the $1.13 billion UGGA program will be level funded at fiscal 2020 amounts for all communities, and that all cities and towns will receive at least level funding of their Chapter 70 education aid. Some school districts will receive school aid increases due to inflation and enrollment under the current formula. In total, Chapter 70 school aid will increase by $107 million, bringing that account up to $5.28 billion.

The framework closely matches the MMA’s request to state leaders, which the association delivered earlier this week. MMA has asked state leaders to protect local aid from cuts by preserving aid at fiscal 2020 levels at a minimum.

“Knowing that local officials need firm information on local aid and school funding in order to finalize their municipal budgets, the state’s top leaders have joined together to provide guidance to cities and towns, and the news is good for communities,” Beckwith said.

Local officials with questions about their numbers can email the Division ofLocal Services at databank@state.ma.us.

Download the UGGA and Chapter 70 numbers for each community and school district, as released by DLS this afternoon (Excel file)

Link to DESE for fiscal 2021 school funding details by district: Chapter 70 amounts plus CARES Act Elementary and Secondary Emergency Relief and Coronavirus Relief Fund allocations