Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Fiscal Year 2015 State Budget Amendments

With the Senate preparing to debate the Fiscal Year 2015 Operating Budget, I wanted to highlight the following amendments that the Senate Republican Caucus filed to better aid our local communities:

Amendment 8-Exempting Cities and Towns from Gas Tax Increases
·         Reimburses cities and towns for the gas tax they paid

Amendment 14-Municipal Gas Tax Exemption (and 62 Filed by Senator Richard Ross)
·         Exempts cities and towns from having to pay the gas tax

Amendment 63-Streaming Municipal Collection (Filed by Senator Richard Ross)
·         Clarifies the law that allows municipalities to designate a Town Collector.  Currently, the law requires all funds due to the municipality to be paid to the Town Collector, including such minor sums as library fines and senior lunch payments. This amendment would eliminate the mandate that all fees be paid to the Town Collector, providing the municipality with the discretion to determine which fees go through that office.

Amendment 82/504-Education Pothole
·         Line item 7061-0011 contains a reserve fund to provide financial relief to communities involved in a newly-formed regional vocational district, and to help mitigate one-time municipal cost increases associated with the withdrawal of a member from a regional school district.  This amendment increases the recommended appropriation for the line item from $2 million to $5 million.

Amendment 86-Surplus Funds for Local Aid
·         Provides for 50 percent of the state’s FY 2014 surplus, or $50 million (whichever is less), to be redistributed to cities and towns through the Lottery funding formula as a one-time local aid payment. 80 percent of these funds are to be expended by October 31, 2014.

Amendment 87- Restoring Unrestricted General Government Aid
·         Provides a partial restoration of Unrestricted General Government Aid (UGGA) to those communities whose FY 2015 UGGA appropriation is less than its combined Additional Assistance and Lottery funding appropriation from FY 2008.  Qualifying communities would receive 1/3 of the difference between their FY 2015 and FY 2008 appropriations.

Amendment 470- Unfunded Education Mandates
·         Allows cities and towns to petition the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) for a waiver from any unfunded mandate, unless DESE determines the absence of the mandate will lower the quality of education provided.  The waiver request will be deemed granted if DESE fails to respond within 90 days of the submission of the request.

Amendment 545-Regional School Transportation
·         Increases the Regional School Transportation line item (7035-0006) by $3,161,320 to ensure a 95 percent reimbursement rate for cities and towns

To view all of the amendments filed by the members of the Senate or to read the budget in its entirety, please click here.