Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Senate Republican Caucus Calls for Override of Local Aid Veto

Today the Senate Republican Caucus distributed the following press release regarding a letter the members sent to Senate President Therese Murray and House Speaker Robert DeLeo urging them to expedite the scheduling of a local aid veto override vote:

Senate GOP Caucus calls for override of local aid veto

Letter urges House, Senate leadership to restore $177M for cities and towns

            BOSTON – With municipalities facing a 19 percent reduction in state aid for Fiscal Year 2014, the Massachusetts Senate Republican Caucus is calling on House and Senate leadership to “prioritize and expedite” a vote to restore $177 million in unrestricted local aid recently cut by Governor Deval Patrick.

            In a letter hand-delivered to Senate President Therese Murray (D-Plymouth) and House Speaker Robert DeLeo (D-Winthrop) Wednesday afternoon, the Caucus echoed Massachusetts Municipal Association Executive Director Geoff Beckwith’s warning that a failure to overturn the Governor’s veto “would slash unrestricted municipal aid to 1986 levels and create widespread fiscal distress in nearly every city and town.”

“If this funding is not restored, communities across the state will be forced to lay off thousands of workers and to make devastating cuts to their police, fire and school departments and other essential municipal services,” the Caucus wrote.  The letter was signed by Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester), Assistant Minority Leader Robert Hedlund (R-Weymouth), Minority Whip Richard Ross (R-Wenham) and Senator Michael Knapik (R-Westfield), the Ranking Republican on the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.

            The local aid reduction was announced by Governor Patrick on July 12, when he cut a total of $417 million in spending from the Fiscal Year 2014 budget.  In making the announcement, Patrick noted that the budget approved by the Legislature on July 1 relied in part on $183.5 million in funding included in a separate transportation finance bill.  That bill was returned unsigned by the Governor with an amendment on July 2.

“While Governor Patrick believes the level of new revenues the Legislature included in the transportation finance bill is insufficient to balance the budget, it is unconscionable to think that our 351 cities and towns should be asked to bear the brunt of his proposed budget cuts,” the Caucus wrote.  “Local governments are on the front lines in providing the basic services upon which our constituents depend, and are facing enormous pressure to balance their own budgets in the midst of a period of weak economic recovery.  Now is not the time for the state to renege on its budget promises, but to restore local aid to the levels endorsed by the House and Senate.”

            A copy of the Caucus letter to President Murray and Speaker DeLeo is attached below.