I joined my colleagues in the House today in approving a $12.7 billion bond bill to assist Massachusetts communities in paying for local transportation-related projects.
The bond bill authorizes $300 million in Chapter 90 funding to help cities and towns complete road, bridge and infrastructure improvement projects. This marks the eighth consecutive year that the House has either raised or level-funded Chapter 90. The legislation also includes a provision designating South Station the “Governor Michael S. Dukakis Transportation Center at South Station.”
“Chapter 90 funds are essential to providing stability and prompting economic growth in Massachusetts,” House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo said. “That growth starts on the local level which is why the House has been, and will continue to be, an unyielding champion of municipalities across the state. This bill provides cities and towns with the funds they so rightly deserve. I thank Chairman Straus and my colleagues for their work.”
“I’m pleased that this legislation authorizes an appropriation of $300 million for cities and towns through Chapter 90 and also funds a variety of important large-scale transportation projects throughout the state,” said Representative William Straus (D-Mattapoisett), House Chair of the Joint Committee on Transportation. “This bill demonstrates a continued financial commitment by the House of Representatives to pay for all modes of transportation in Massachusetts including roads, bridge repairs, new trains, improvements to local airports, and major transportation infrastructure projects. An accessible and modern transportation system is essential for economic growth.”
The legislation will improve and modernize the state’s infrastructure system through projects including:
- $2.97 billion for state-wide roadway and bridge projects;
- $350 million in investments for Regional Transit Authority improvements;
- $125 million to support the Department of Conservation in preserving and improving historic parkways;
- $2.5 billion for MBTA rail improvements including new Red and Orange Line cars.
Funding for the Sixth Plymouth District will benefit projects such as $100,000 for the repair and construction of a bridge to allow handicapped access and for the installation of a fish ladder at Herring Run Park in the Town of Pembroke.
The bill also includes $50 million in grant monies for the ‘complete streets’ project which supports investments that accommodate users including motorists, pedestrians, cyclists, and public transit.
The bill now moves to the Senate.
DUXBURY – Duxbury’s state legislative delegation has joined together to renew calls on Governor Deval Patrick to release $100 million in already authorized Chapter 90 funding for our cities and towns.
In a letter sent to the Governor this past Thursday, Rep. Josh Cutler (D-Duxbury), Rep. Tom Calter (D-Kingston) and Sen. Robert Hedlund (R-Weymouth) jointly called for the prompt release of the funds. Chapter 90 monies are used to reimburse towns for local roadway and transportation projects. The legislature voted and approved a $300 million Chapter 90 bond bill earlier this year, however the administration has released only $200 million in funds to date.
The difference for the towns of Duxbury would be significant. At a $200 million funding level Duxbury is eligible for state reimbursements of $541,744. At $300 million, the town would eligible for $812,617, or an additional $270,872. The funds are restricted to local road, bridge and infrastructure projects.
In the letter Duxbury’s legislators wrote, “As you are certainly well aware, this money is crucial to the maintenance and upkeep of the transportation infrastructure throughout the Commonwealth. Our cities and towns have long waited for the remainder of this funding which has been delivered in a piecemeal fashion that has caused difficulties for cities and towns attempting to implement their own budgets and road maintenance plans.”
The transportation funds have already been voted and authorized by the legislature but can only be released by the executive branch. This is not the first time legislators have taken issue with the administration’s handling of the issue.
The Mass. Municipal Association (MMA) and state legislative leaders in both branches have repeatedly voiced their support for the $300 million funding level and called on Governor Patrick to release the money.
"It’s perplexing," said MMA Executive Director Geoff Beckwith. “His decision flies in the face of what Chapter 90 is supposed to do for this state. Citizens will drive on local roads. They will continue to be in worse condition."
The administration released $150 million in May and another $50 million at the end of July, but the result is level funding of the program, rather than the $100 million increase the Legislature intended and local officials were expecting. Despite repeated requests since then to release the Chapter 90 funds, the administration has refused, citing other spending priorities.
“It is now incumbent thatthe Administration supports the needs of our municipalities by carrying out the funding that we all have promised,” Rep. Cutler, Rep. Calter and Sen. Hedlund wrote. “To deny them funds for vital road projects not only steps back from our joint commitment to improve our transportation infrastructure, but also our commitment to support local funding to our partner cities and towns.”
The letter to Governor Patrick was originally authored by Rep. Peter Durant of Worcester and is co-signed by more than 40 state legislators.
Statement from the Mass. Municipal Association in support of Rep. Cutler and State Legislature's vote to override Local Aid Veto:
The House and Senate voted unanimously today to override the governor’s veto of $177 million in unrestricted municipal aid, restoring local aid to the funding level established by the Legislature in the fiscal 2014 state budget approved earlier this month.
Thanks to the Legislature’s vote, cities and towns will receive $920 million in Unrestricted General Government Aid, a $21 million increase over fiscal 2013. The vote finalizes the fiscal 2014 Cherry Sheets and ends the uncertainty over local aid levels that was triggered when the governor issued his local aid veto.
The governor’s veto on July 12 would have slashed aid to every city and town by 19 percent. Legislative leaders immediately announced that they would protect localities and work to override the veto.
The governor did not veto other local aid accounts, securing a $130 million increase for Chapter 70 education aid, full funding of the Special Education Circuit Breaker program, as well as increases for regional and vocational school transportation accounts.
The vote to restore local aid occurred moments after the Legislature overrode the governor’s veto of a transportation finance package by wide margins, ending months of debate and enacting $500 million in new taxes as part of a comprehensive $800 million framework to invest in transportation to rebuild and maintain the state’s road and transit systems.
“On behalf of cities and towns in every corner of Massachusetts, we thank the members of the House and Senate for their action to protect and restore local aid,” said MMA Executive Director Geoff Beckwith. “The leaders and members of the Legislature have worked hard to deliver a strong budget for cities and towns, and we appreciate their hard work and commitment to local government.”
Please to receive this letter acknowledging our strong commitment to higher education funding in this year's state budget. As a result college students attending UMass or any state college will not see any tuition OR fee hike this coming year. Some welcome relief for students and parents.
On behalf of the Massachusetts State University Council of Presidents, the nine State University campuses and our 52,000 students, I write today to extend my deepest appreciation to you for championing the historic investment made in our State University system during the FY14 budget deliberations. As a result of your leadership, the State Universities are able to freeze tuition and institutional fees for the upcoming 2013-2014 academic year. The additional $15m in our system is an important first step towards an equitable funding of Massachusetts’ institutions of public higher education, and will significantly benefit our students and their families.
This investment and our commitment to freeze our institutional fees will expand student access at a time of growing demand for a State University education. It will help our students graduate with a great education and less debt, while providing expanded opportunities for employment and growth. This investment in the State University system is good for our economy, good for our Commonwealth and great for our students and their families.
The additional $15m in the State University system moves us closer to the goal of the state funding 50 percent of the cost of educating our students, and will enable the system to continue to remain competitive, accessible and affordable to residents of the Commonwealth. In providing this additional funding during a time of continued fiscal constraints, you have recognized the State Universities’ critical role in the Massachusetts economy. Your State University system graduates more than 10,000 students each year, and more than 85 percent of our graduates remain in the Commonwealth to live, work and raise their families. Ninety percent of our graduates are working or continuing postgraduate education within one year of graduation. State University graduates are your public school teachers, police officers, nurses, social workers, white-collar professionals and more; they are helping to drive our Massachusetts economy and make the Commonwealth what it is today.
We again extend to you our sincere thanks for your renewed commitment in the State University system and for helping us to provide the strongest possible system of public higher education for the residents of Massachusetts. We look forward to continuing to work together to build upon this historic investment and to make our public universities the best and most affordable universities in the country.
Vincent A. Pedone
State University Council of Presidents
Rep. Cutler joined the Mass. Municipal Association and legislative leaders in opposing Governor Patrick's veto of $177 million in unrestricted Local Aid from the FY2014 state budget. Here is the statement from MMA:
Gov. Deval Patrick today signed the state’s $34 billion fiscal 2014 budget into law, but imposed a massive $177 million veto on Unrestricted General Government Aid along with $240 million in transportation-related vetoes.
The governor said he made the cuts because the budget sent to him by the Legislature on July 1 relies on approximately $450 million in new tax revenue from a transportation finance bill and those funds are not yet guaranteed.
The governor’s veto would slash unrestricted municipal aid down to 1986 levels and create fiscal distress in cities and towns across the state. The veto would reduce direct local aid from the $920 million passed by the Legislature down to $743 million, a 19 percent cut that would also result in the diversion of $110 million in local Lottery funds away from cities and towns, using those dollars to balance the state budget instead of funding local services, as originally intended in state law.
“If this veto is allowed to stand,” said MMA Executive Director Geoff Beckwith, “communities will face an unexpected and devastating fiscal crisis.”
House Speaker Robert DeLeo immediately issued a statement pledging to restore the local aid cut.
“The House of Representatives will protect the cities and towns of Massachusetts,” he said. “We passed a budget that addresses key transportation needs, provides funding to our municipalities, and makes key investments in higher education and community colleges, and we will again vote next week to maintain that commitment.”
Due to its overwhelming support in the Legislature, observers expect the transportation finance package to eventually become law, with or without the governor’s signature, and it is also expected that the Legislature will vote to override the $177 million local aid veto. Nonetheless, Beckwith said, “the governor’s veto has created significant uncertainty and budget disruption.”
Most other local aid accounts were approved by the governor as passed by the Legislature, including a $130 million increase in funding for Chapter 70 education aid, $10 million more for the special education circuit breaker, and a $6 million increase for regional school transportation.
• MMA statement opposing the governor’s local aid veto and calling on the Legislature to immediately override it
The governor returned the transportation finance bill to the Legislature with an amendment two weeks ago, asserting that $135 million in Massachusetts Turnpike toll revenue included in the package might not be available in fiscal 2017 and 2018. The governor’s amendment would automatically increase the gas tax by $135 million a year if the Weston-to-Springfield tolls come down in four years. Legislative leaders, however, have made it clear that they oppose the amendment.
By returning the transportation finance bill to the Legislature, the $450 million in new revenue that its tax increases would raise for fiscal 2014 was delayed until after the governor’s deadline for signing the state budget, and the governor chose to veto more than $400 million from the budget to “bring it into balance.”
Legislative leaders are now scheduling formal sessions to override the governor’s transportation finance bill amendment and his expected veto of the final bill, as well as voting to override any related budget vetoes, including the local aid veto.
The MMA has endorsed the Legislature’s transportation finance package and is urging lawmakers to take all action necessary to make sure it becomes law.
Now two weeks into the fiscal year, the state has been operating on an interim, one-month budget enacted by the Legislature and signed by the governor last month.
Here is news release on the FY 14 state budget passed on Monday.
(BOSTON) – The Mass. House of Representatives enacted a $34.06 billion state budget for fiscal year 2014 (FY14). The spending plan makes important investments to rebuild the Commonwealth’s essential services and programs, including local aid, education, housing, public safety, and health and human services, and supports the ongoing recovery of the local economy.
The budget reflects the priorities of the Commonwealth and the needs of cities, towns and residents, while also maintaining the highest level of fiscal responsibility and accountability, leaving the state’s rainy day fund at $1.46 billion.
“As a state with an AA+ bond rating, we were able enact a strong spending plan that makes proactive and responsible investments to help prepare our students for the jobs of the future, such as our STEM Starter Academy and our funding of the University of Massachusetts,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop). “This budget demonstrates our commitment to education and job creation while protecting those most in need of help.”
“This budget makes important and thoughtful investments in many of our core services and programs in the Commonwealth, including education, care for the elderly, housing, distressed hospitals and mental health,” Senate President Therese Murray (D-Plymouth) said. “I want to thank the conference committee for their commitment to producing a final budget that maintains our fiscal health and continues our economic growth. Our recovery continues to move forward but it is critical that we still remain cautious in our spending and focus on the priorities that will keep the Commonwealth moving forward.”
“Through this budget, the Legislature recognizes the economic challenges facing the Commonwealth and its residents,” said House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Brian S. Dempsey (D – Haverhill). “Our goal is a renewed focus on governmental oversight and accountability to eliminate fraud and delays and to ensure that those who need the Commonwealth’s assistance receive it. We pair this focus with an emphasis on higher education as a means to provide our residents with a competitive edge that will continue to support the state’s economic recovery.”
“This budget makes a number of responsible and sustainable investments in human services programs, local aid, and education,” said Senate Ways and Means Committee Chairman Stephen M. Brewer (D-Barre). “The joint spending plan approved today moves away from some of the painful cuts of the past and funds a number of thoughtful and significant priorities. We should be very proud of the important investments we have made here; they will impact some of the Commonwealth’s neediest residents, including eliminating wait lists for the elderly and prioritizing early education, while ensuring that we continue to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of government programs.”
The budget represents the Legislature’s continuing commitment to cities and towns, boosting investments in Unrestricted General Government Aid (UGGA), Chapter 70, and the Special Education Circuit Breaker. For the first time since FY10 UGGA funding will increase to $920 million, an increase of more than $21 million, due largely in part to gaming licensing revenues.
This year’s spending bill underscores Massachusetts’ ongoing commitment to strengthening its educational systems through both new and updated provisions. The budget increases key areas of local education funding including $4.31 billion for Chapter 70, full funding for educating high-needs special education students and $51.5 million for Regional School Transportation. The budget also allocates a $15 million investment in early education that will take approximately 2,000 children off the waitlist for income-eligible child care.
The budget also takes decisive action to increase funding for the University of Massachusetts, state universities and community colleges, including $478.9 million for UMass to prevent tuition and fee increases in the upcoming school year. It creates a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Starter Academy program to be implemented through the Department of Higher Education. This program will benefit a targeted population of students at one or more of the Commonwealth’s Community Colleges who have expressed a high level of interest in STEM majors and careers.
The budget provides numerous health and human services provisions including $38.3 million to increase rates paid to Disproportionate Share Hospitals to assist struggling hospitals with modernization assistance and funding payment reform. It also provides crucial funding for mental health services through an increase of $8.4 million and increasing substance abuse services by $6.7 million. This funding will maintain at least 626 inpatient mental health beds, including 45 beds at Taunton State Hospital and for child, adolescent and emergency mental health services.
Additionally, the spending bill allocates $187.2 million to elder home care services, an increase of $6.2 million that will eliminate the 1,500 person waitlist for elder home care services, and increases funding for housing programs by $18.2 million to ensure safe and sustainable housing options. The majority of this increase will allow for more than 1,000 new housing vouchers.
The budget maintains the Legislature’s commitment to government efficiency and transparency by implementing key reforms to the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) and including funding to examine the state’s early education, public health and criminal justice programs to determine how efficiency can be improved within these programs.
In additional reforms, the legislation implements new oversight within the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, which administers the electronic benefits transfer (EBT) program, to bolster the waste and abuse prevention reforms enacted in the FY ’13 budget. The budget also creates The Bureau of Program Integrity to provide continuous oversight of public assistance programs while maintaining eligibility verification and ensuring we focus our state resources on those residents who are most in need of state assistance. This provision will be implemented alongside reforms included in the FY ’13 June Supplemental Budget, requiring EBT cards to include photo IDs and creating a state verification and eligibility Task Force to investigate and prevent fraud and the abuse of public benefits.
Lastly, the budget expands and funds numerous economic development initiatives, including more than $20 million in anticipated gaming revenue to a variety of manufacturing-related programs.
The budget now goes to the Governor for his approval.
Here is news release on the FY 13 Supplemental budget passed on Monday.
(BOSTON) – The Mass. House of Representative enacted a $133.4 million supplemental state budget, providing funding for vital state programs and implementing reforms to the electronic benefit transfer (EBT) system administered by the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA).
“I congratulate the conferees for their work on this important bill which allows us to continue critical state initiatives like the Summer Jobs program and provide funds for snow and ice removal,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop). “I’m also very pleased that we were able to take immediate action to combat welfare fraud with measures like adding photos to EBT cards and creating the Bureau of Program Integrity. These actions affirm our commitment to stopping fraud while supporting citizens who are most in need. Lastly, I am especially proud of the inclusion of home modification funds for victims of the Boston Marathon and thank those who advocated for this provision.”
“The supplemental budget provides much-needed funds to critical services and programs across the Commonwealth,” said Senate President Therese Murray (D-Plymouth). “Our towns and cities will feel the positive effects of these funds at the local level, such as through the distribution of Community Health Center grants and charter school reimbursements. This budget also authorizes funding for operations costs for local sheriffs as well as provides Welcome Home bonuses for our veterans returning from their service abroad. These are important programs and services that contribute to the economic health of our communities as well as the personal well-being of our residents.”
“This supplemental budget ensures funding for programs in Fiscal Year 2013 that provide integral support to the residents of the Commonwealth. It prioritizes meaningful assistance to victims of the Boston Marathon bombings who have lost limbs by creating a home modification grant program and supports critical services like the Hotel/Motel Emergency Shelter program for homeless families and the Summer Jobs program. It also includes funding to meet our obligations for the Snow and Ice program.” said House Ways and Means Chairman Brian S. Dempsey (D-Haverhill).
The supplemental budget updates EBT oversight measures included in the House’s FY ’14 budget to advance continuous efforts by the House to address and prevent EBT abuse. This legislation contains the following provisions:
- Requires a photo on EBT cards for each eligible household member over the age of 18 to deter fraud. Elderly and disabled residents are exempt from this requirement;
- Establishes a state verification and eligibility Task Force made up of the State Auditor, Attorney General, Inspector General, Treasurer, Secretary of Health and Human Services and Secretary of Administration and Finance to coordinate efforts with the DTA’s Bureau of Program Integrity.
- Authorizes $56 million to fund payments for the Snow and Ice program;
- Provides $10 million to support the Youth Summer Jobs program, providing employment opportunities for the Commonwealth’s at-risk youth;
- Creates a $200,000 fund for victims of the Boston Marathon to help modify their homes or move into more accessible housing;
- Provides $1 million for Community Health Center grants;
- Authorizes funding for operations costs for the Commonwealth’s sheriffs;
- Allocates $8 million in funding for charter school reimbursements;
- Provides $13.5 million to cover state and local special elections costs;
- Authorizes $1.2 million to support the Hotel/Motel program for homeless;
- Provides $50,000 to study the feasibility of a regional lock-up facility in Worcester County.
Further, the FY ’14 budget makes additional reforms including implementing new oversight within the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, which administers the electronic benefits transfer (EBT) program, to bolster the waste and abuse prevention reforms enacted in the FY ’13 budget. It also creates the Bureau of Program Integrity to provide continuous oversight of public assistance programs while maintaining eligibility verification and ensuring we focus our state resources on those residents who are most in need of state assistance.
BOSTON – State Representatives Geoff Diehl (R – Whitman) and Josh Cutler (D – Duxbury) were pleased to join Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray and Administration and Finance Secretary Glen Shor to announce the award of $1.1 million in grants to vocational school districts in order to purchase new equipment. The program will run for 5 years, awarding $1 million per year.
The 25 recipients of FY 2013 Vocational School Equipment grants include 184 cities and towns across Massachusetts. South Shore Vocational was awarded $32,500 for the purchase of engineering equipment.
“In Massachusetts, we offer only about one half of the slots for vocational education that are offered in most other developed countries, which has been a contributing factor to our global achievement gap. Many “VocTech” students have a high propensity to earn graduate degrees in the critical Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields, something also lacking in our state,” Diehl noted. “With a renewed focus on STEM education in Massachusetts, these equipment grants come at a critical time and I am proud of South Shore Vo. Tech. and its talented students for applying, and winning, this grant that will help to expand its engineering programs”.
The grant program often requires local or private sector matches, and the first round of funding leveraged $1.9 million in matching funds, or $1.67 for every state tax dollar invested. A&F received 165 applications from 82% of all schools in the Commonwealth with Chapter 74 vocational programs.
“Kudos to Superintendent Tom Hickey and the entire staff at South Shore Vo-Tech for this award, part of a highly competitive grant process,” added Rep. Cutler. “These funds will help our engineering students stay current and develop critical job skills they’ll need to prosper in a competitive economy”.
Here is a list of all the budget amendments I have sponsored or co-sponsored. There may be a few late file amendments that are missing when the list was run but it should be pretty complete otherwise.
Amendment No. Title Sponsor Type
220 An Amendment Relative to Equitable Cell Phone Taxation Primary Sponsor
230 An Amendment to Reduce the Annual Filing Fee for Small Limited Liability Companies Primary Sponsor
239 An Amendment Relative to Freezing Property Taxes for Senior Citizens Primary Sponsor
279 An Amendment Relative to a Meals Tax Break Primary Sponsor
300 An Amendment Relative to Tax Abatements for Disabled Veterans Primary Sponsor
353 Elder Protective Services Primary Sponsor
436 State Aid to Public Libraries Primary Sponsor
735 Plymouth County Freshwater Dredging Equipment Acquisition Primary Sponsor
72 An amendment to fund Regional School Transportation Co-Sponsor
148 Special Ed Circuit Breaker Funding Co-Sponsor
160 Council on Aging Formula Grant Co-Sponsor
163 Regional North River Commission funding Co-Sponsor
181 State Aid to Public Libraries Co-Sponsor
211 Plymouth County Dredge for Ocean Sediments Co-Sponsor
306 Family Planning Amendment Co-Sponsor
382 Homeless Student Transportation Co-Sponsor
394 Statewide AP Mass. Math and Science Initiative (MMSI) Co-Sponsor
440 State scholarships/financial aid Co-Sponsor
442 An Act Relative to Fully Fund Target Share Co-Sponsor
444 An Act Relative to Target Share Co-Sponsor
456 Bristol & Plymouth County Mosquito Control Projects Co-Sponsor
462 Salary Reserve Co-Sponsor
478 Regional Economic Development Grants Co-Sponsor
480 State Aid to Public Libraries Co-Sponsor
548 Massachusetts Cultural Council Co-Sponsor
554 EI Amendment Co-Sponsor
565 School-to-Career Connecting Activities Co-Sponsor
645 Funding tobacco cessation and prevention Co-Sponsor
652 Child Rate Reserve Amendment Co-Sponsor
680 Tax Amnesty Co-Sponsor
752 DPS Piping Inspectors Co-Sponsor
796 Coastal and Shorefront Infrastructure Fund Co-Sponsor
822 Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment for students with disabilities Co-Sponsor
824 Massachusetts School Nurse Organization Co-Sponsor
831 An amendment to create 56,400 new jobs for only a $262 investment per job Co-Sponsor
839 Buy Local Amendment Co-Sponsor
853 DDS Turning 22 Co-Sponsor
874 Chapter 70 Funding Co-Sponsor