Thursday, March 6, 2014

House Republican Caucus to Offer Local Aid Resolution

In an ongoing commitment to providing fiscal certainty to the Commonwealth’s cities and towns, the House Republican Caucus has filed a Local Aid Resolution to provide municipalities with timely notice of the Legislature’s commitment to support them with local aid in Fiscal Year 2015.

In an email distributed to House colleagues, House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading), who drafted the resolution, said, “Local officials across the state are planning their budgets for the coming fiscal year. The decisions they make will determine such things as the quality of education for our children, the ability to keep our citizens safe, and the opportunity to offer other local services.” The letter to Republican and Democratic legislators goes on to say, “Giving municipalities numbers they can rely on will afford them confidence in their planning and decision-making process.”

All of these decisions hinge, in part, on how much local aid each community will receive from the state this year. As of now, these funding levels remain uncertain.

The resolution proposes the following:

• Increase the amount of Chapter 70 school aid given in the current fiscal year by $113 million, which correlates to an additional investment of $50 per student;

• Increase the amount of Unrestricted General Government Aid by $75 million – an 8.15% increase over Fiscal Year 2014;

• Level fund the Reimbursement to Cities in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) with the FY14 appropriation;

• Increase the level of funding for Regional School Transportation by $2.5 million over Fiscal Year 2014;

• Fund the reimbursement for the Special Education Circuit Breaker at $252.5M, slightly above the Fiscal Year 2014 level; and

• Set the level of funding for Homeless Student Transportation (McKinney/Vento) at the projected FY15 district claim amount of $14.9 million.

“As a former local official, I appreciate and understand the need for a strong set of local aid numbers,” said Representative Jones. “Knowing firsthand the current struggle of cities and towns, I am confident that my Republican colleagues and I have presented a strong set of numbers to be considered. I encourage my colleagues across the aisle to join Republicans as many cities and towns in the Commonwealth are anxiously awaiting the release of local aid.”

This resolution would provide, among other things, flexibility during budget debate so that the Legislature may further increase local aid appropriations from an established floor. It would also provide predictability for municipalities who are in the midst of constructing their own budgets.

The entire House of Representatives will now have the opportunity to join the House Republican Caucus in demonstrating its commitment to the Commonwealth’s cities and towns.