Submitted by Representative Ken Gordon
Representative Ken Gordon (D-Bedford) and Legislative leaders today announced a local agreement for Fiscal Year 2015. The plan, which covers both Unrestricted General Government Aid and Chapter 70 education aid, guarantees approximately $125 million in funding increases for these two accounts. In addition, this early agreement provides cities and towns with budget certainty regarding their largest sources of state aid.
The joint local aid resolution ensures that FY 2015 will mark the third consecutive year in which both Unrestricted Local Aid and Chapter 70 have been increased, the first time this has occurred since the Great Recession.
“Municipalities are the backbone of our state” said Gordon. “These additional funds will provide Bedford, Burlington and Wilmington with financial relief.
“It is our priority in the Senate to protect local aid funding and make sure that these figures are not reduced for the 2015 fiscal year,” Senate President Therese Murray (D-Plymouth) said. “Our towns and cities rely on local aid for essential services and projects and it’s important that we provide them with these numbers early so they can effectively plan their budgets. As we move through this budget season, we will remain committed to meeting their financial needs.”
“The House is proud that it has continuously championed local aid,” House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop) said. “Municipalities are the backbone of our state and by taking early and comprehensive action we help cities and towns build a better future for the state. This year the House will again work to increase the local funding municipalities need and so rightly deserve.”
The agreement calls for $4.4 billion in the Chapter 70 fund, the largest appropriation in the program’s history, and a $99 million increase over the FY 2014 funding level. This funding level will not only ensure that all school districts reach their foundation budget, but also provides additional state aid to communities who receive less state aid than called for by the formula. Under the joint agreement, every school district will receive a state aid increase of at least $25 per pupil.
“As a former selectman, I know that it’s critically important for cities and towns to get these numbers early in their budgeting processes, whether the numbers are good, bad or indifferent,” said Senate Ways and Means Chairman Stephen Brewer, (D-Barre). “However, I am pleased to say that these numbers are good. They represent our continued increase in support for our local governments and schools.”
“Local aid is an important component of municipal budgets, and we always work to maintain as much stability and predictability as possible for our cities and towns,” said House Ways and Means Chairman Brian S. Dempsey (D-Haverhill). “This year we are able to provide not only increased funding but this joint resolution, which allows municipal governments to have a clearer picture of the fiscal landscape as they proceed to craft their local budgets.”
The Joint Agreement also includes $945.75 million in Unrestricted General Government Aid, an increase of more than $25 million over the FY 2014 appropriation. This is the largest amount of unrestricted local aid since Lottery Aid and Additional Assistance were consolidated in FY 2009.