Fiscal Year 2011 will be another difficult year for state and local budgets. In addition, FY2010 will likely show a revenue decline of $250 to $500 million from forecasts.
This was the message from our panel of speakers at last night’s meeting. Over 35 attendees heard from Senator Jamie Eldridge, Representative Pam Richardson and Michael Widmer, President of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation. Attendees heard about the state fiscal picture, got an inside look at the work legislators are doing to help local communities and had the opportunity to ask questions and raise concerns.
Some other highlights of the meeting included:
- More local aid cuts will likely occur in FY11 and remain a possibility in FY10
- A significant amount of one-time funding (rainy day and stimulus money) was used to balance the FY10 budget. This money will not be available for FY11
- Without the sales tax increase approved by the Legislature, which will contribute about $900 million in tax revenue, the local aid picture would be even worse than it is.
- Health insurance benefit reform remains a top, if not critical, money-saving opportunity for local communities. The Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government is working on legislation.
- The state faces a long-term structural deficit issue which must be addressed. A solution to this issue would aid us in weathering future economic downturns.
- In addition to health insurance benefit reform, the Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government is considering legislation that would ease the way for joint procurement and mutual aid agreements
- Legislation has also been filed to freeze tuitions for out-of-district Special Education placements and would cap tuition for charter school students at the same amount as school choice.
- Two ballot questions that could appear on the November ballot are causes of concern for local officials. One would lower the sales tax from 6.5% to 3%. The other would eliminate the cap on charter schools.
We would like to extend our thanks to our panelists for sharing their time and expertise with us and for listening to and addressing our concerns.
Save the Date
Our next General Meeting will be held on Thursday, November 5 at 7:30PM. The topic of the meeting will be Successful Negotiating Strategies. Watch for more information soon.
Visit us on the web at www.suburbancoalition.org.