May 3rd 2016 BOSTON – State Representative David K. Muradian, Jr. (R-Grafton), joined with his colleagues in the House of Representatives to approve a $39.5 billion state budget for Fiscal Year 2017. The budget was engrossed on a vote of 156-0 on April 27.
Representative Muradian was able to successfully secure over $5 million in the budget to fund important local initiatives for Grafton, Northbridge, and Upton. That funding included school safety improvements for Grafton, public safety improvements in Northbridge, and funding for the Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine.
Similar to the budget proposal Governor Baker released in January, the House budget does not contain any tax increases and significantly reduces the state’s reliance on one-time revenues. It also provides for increased local aid for cities and towns.
“As legislators, our first priority is to the taxpayers of the Commonwealth and making sure their tax dollars are being spent wisely and efficiently,” said Representative Muradian. “The Baker-Polito Administration has set a high standard for fiscal responsibility, and the House budget in many ways reflects this pro-taxpayer approach.”
State tax revenues for Fiscal Year 2017 are expected to total $26.86 billion, which represents a 4.3 percent increase over the current revenue projections for Fiscal Year 2016. However, both Governor Baker and the House have attempted to limit spending growth to just 3.5 percent.
The House budget funds Chapter 70 education aid at $4.6 billion, which is $96 million more than the current fiscal year and $24 million higher than the Governor’s proposal, allowing for a statewide minimum increase allocation of $55 per pupil. Unrestricted general government aid, which can be used for a wide range of municipal spending purposes, is increased by $42.1 million to a total of $1.022 billion.
Under the House version of the budget, the Town of Grafton will receive $10,827,425 in Chapter 70 aid along with $1,503,368 in Unrestricted General Government Aid (UGGA), Northbridge will receive $15,403,891 in Chapter 70 aid and $2,029,585 in UGGA, and Upton will receive $19,248 in from Chapter 70 and $511,914 from UGGA. Also in this budget, Nipmuc Regional High School will receive $12,253,186 in Chapter 70 funding.
The House budget increases funding for the “Pothole” account from $2.5 million to $10 million to provide extraordinary relief to school districts that experience a substantial shortfall between their Chapter 70 aid and target Chapter 70 aid. The budget also includes $276.6 million for Special Education Circuit Breaker reimbursements – fully funding the state’s share of special education aid for local school districts at 75 percent – while also providing $85.5 million for charter school reimbursements and $60 million for regional school transportation reimbursements.
For the second consecutive year, the House budget does not draw money from the state Stabilization Fund. Instead, it provides for $210 million to be deposited into the fund, which will bring the balance to $1.47 billion. The House budget also relies on $253 million in one-time revenues, which is about $350 million less than the current budget.
The budget now moves to the Senate, which is expected to release its own spending proposal in mid-May.