Thursday, April 14, 2011

Senate Unanimously Adopts Early Local Aid Resolution Requested by GOP Caucus

Today the Massachusetts State Senate acted on a Republican Caucus order to provide cities and towns with a set of preliminary Fiscal Year 2012 (FY12) local aid figures. The Senate resolution, which passed unanimously by a roll call vote of 36-0, sets the minimum amount of Chapter 70 education aid and general government assistance communities can expect to receive from the state for the new fiscal year that begins on July 1st.

“This resolution addresses two critical factors – timing and reliability,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr. “Through its adoption, municipal and school officials can have the information they need to make timely decisions about their budgets, and they can count on specific amounts of aid, at a minimum, to be there when they need them."

Tarr filed an order last week with Senators Robert Hedlund (R-Weymouth), Michael Knapik (R-Westfield) and Richard Ross (R-Wrentham) compelling the filing of today's local aid resolution by the Senate Committee on Ways and Means and its consideration by the Senate.

The local aid figures reflect a $120 million – or 3.1 percent – increase in Chapter 70 education aid for cities and towns, bringing the statewide total to $3.99 billion. Unfortunately, unrestricted general government aid is reduced to $833 million statewide. This represents a cut of $65 million, or 7 percent, compared to this year’s totals.

The timing of the resolution is critical, since municipal and school budgets must be acted upon and approved by local legislative bodies well in advance of the July 1st deadline for the implementation of the state budget for the coming fiscal year.

“Senate Republicans have consistently expressed the belief that local aid is a budgetary priority, and today’s vote reflects the agreement of the full Senate with that belief,” Tarr noted.