News

May 02
State Representative John W. Scibak joined his colleagues in the Massachusetts House of Representatives on April 26, 2012 in passing a balanced FY ’13 budget aimed at increasing government efficiency, cutting costs and preserving essential services across the Commonwealth. The budget, which passed with bipartisan support, closes a projected $790 million budget gap through cuts and adjustments to state spending, one-time revenues, and a $400 million withdrawal from the Rainy Day fund. The budget for fiscal year ’13 once again shows the House’s commitment to the citizens of Massachusetts by including no new taxes or fees. Conversely, the House budget makes a significant investment in Local Aid to help lessen the burden of the recession on municipalities. Thanks to such sound fiscal management, Standard and Poor’s increased Massachusetts’ bond rating from AA to AA+. “The House budget for fiscal year ’13 maximizes the value of every last state dollar and strives to implement sensible reforms to position Massachusetts for a bright economic future,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo. “Although we are still challenged by this downturn, we’ve produced a budget that preserves essential services, aids municipalities, strengthens our community colleges and reforms the use of our EBT system so that it serves the most in need.” “By passing this budget the House has made clear that despite the continued pressure on our financial resources, our commitment to our partners in municipal government and the people of Massachusetts is a responsibility that must continue to be prioritized,” said House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Brian Dempsey. “This budget contains $899M in unrestricted local aid for cities and towns, $168M in new support for every school district in the State, and a new $11.3M source of support for municipalities transporting homeless students.  In addition to local aid, I am proud of the commitment the House has made to support the programs that millions of people and businesses rely on every day, and that it was done without shifting the burden of balancing the budget onto the shoulders of the people and businesses of the Commonwealth through any type of new fees or taxes.” This budget fully funds the Unrestricted General Government Aid that municipalities rely on to balance their budgets each fiscal year. It includes an additional $65M that was sent out last year in the form of a supplemental budget, essentially guaranteeing that money for municipalities up front. The House budget also places a high priority on education funding by increasing Chapter 70, special education circuit breaker, McKinney-Vento, and regional transportation funding. This budget guarantees all municipal, vocational and regional school districts an increase over Fiscal Year 2012 Chapter 70 funding for a total increase of $164M. It will assist districts in meeting their special education obligations by funding circuit breaker at $221.5M and for the first time, the House has appropriated funds to offset the expense of the federal mandate (McKinney-Vento) requiring communities to incur the costs of transporting their homeless student population. Furthermore, the House was able to prioritize regional school transportation, funding it at $45.4M. In an effort to create jobs and help cities and towns, the House budget strengthens the Community Preservation Act, a law passed in 2000 that allows Massachusetts cities and towns to establish a fund to support local needs. Over the past decade, the CPA has promoted cost savings and job creation. By increasing the funding available for the statewide CPA Trust Fund in this year’s budget, the House will provide more local aid and support for local jobs. This legislation diversifies the allowable funding sources that cities and towns can use to fund their local CPA fund. And it will support the small businesses in our state by allowing municipalities to exempt commercial and industrial properties from a portion of the CPA local surcharge. This budget also places the Commonwealth’s community colleges in the best position possible to respond to the changing needs of Massachusetts and its residents, particularly in workforce development and continued higher education. The House budget includes increased coordination among the 15 separate community colleges and the Board of Higher Education in order to provide flexibility to adapt to new opportunities for the Commonwealth. This is accomplished while still retaining the local involvement in the administration of the schools that has been a critical part of the success of the community colleges. In a demonstration of the House’s commitment to serving elders and the disabled, this budget preserves programs such as elder nutrition enhanced home care services and elder protective services. Recognizing the high cost of our home services, this budget increases in-home supports for families of the developmentally disabled and makes investments in the areas of transportation and Turning 22. These significant investments ensure there will be a continuum of services to these populations. Finally, the House seeks efficiencies and re-procurements in many areas of state government, such as Mass Health and the Department of Corrections, in order to achieve savings and maximize our investments. In addition, the budget provides the tools needed to seek out fraud, waste and abuse in state funded programs. The budget includes a provision banning any individual from knowingly using, transferring, acquiring, altering or possessing an electronic benefit transfer card or access device in any manner not authorized by federal or state law. ###