BOSTON – State Representative Marc Lombardo, R-Billerica, recently supported the passage of the state budget for Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23).
House Bill 5050 represents a compromise spending plan negotiated by a six-member conference that worked to resolve the differences between the initial House and Senate versions of the budget that were passed in April and May, respectively. Filed by the conference committee on July 17, House Bill 5050 was enacted by both legislative branches on July 18 and is now on Governor Charlie Baker’s desk for his review and signature.
Representative Lombardo noted that the budget includes $5.9 billion in Chapter 70 education aid for cities, towns and regional school districts, along with $1.23 billion in unrestricted general government aid (UGGA) to support other essential municipal program and services. This represents an increase of nearly $495 million in Chapter 70 aid and just over $63 million in UGGA funds compared to last year.
According to Representative Lombardo, the local aid increases contained in the new budget will provide additional local aid to Billerica for the new fiscal year that began on July 1. Under House Bill 5050, Billerica will receive $19,777,194 in direct education aid and $6,745,392 in unrestricted state aid.
The FY23 budget also includes funding for several local projects Representative Lombardo advocated for throughout the budget process. Those initiatives include: $25,000 for the structure replacements and improvements to ensure children's safety at Billerica elementary school playgrounds, $25,000 for capital projects and repair of the VFW Solomon Post 8819, $35,000 for the Billerica Council on Aging, $25,000 for Billerica Police Equipment, and $15,000 for the Billerica Food Pantry.
The FY23 budget contains funding increases for several educational programs that provide state reimbursement to cities and towns. The Special Education Circuity Breaker is funded at $441 million, or $67.7 million more than last year, while municipal charter school reimbursements are funded at $243.8 million, an increase of $89.2 million compared to last year. Regional school transportation is level-funded at $82.2 million but homeless student transportation is increased by $8.5 million, to a total of $22.9 million.
Other funding highlights from the budget include:
· $1.4 billion transfer to the state’s Stabilization Fund, bringing the total to approximately $7.35 billion to help preserve essential state programs during future economic downturns;
· $250 million in grants to support and stabilize the state’s early education and care workforce and to address operational costs at Massachusetts child care programs;
· $175 million to support a High-Quality Early Education & Care Affordability Fund;
· $60 million for a reimbursement rate increase for center-based subsidized early education and care;
· Additional $150 million for a reserve to fund the continued implementation of the 2019 Student Opportunity Act, bringing the total to $500 million;
· $15 million to encourage Massachusetts public university graduates to work as public school teachers, with half of this funding earmarked for the Tomorrow’s Educators Scholarship Program;
· $110 million to continue to provide universal free school meals for Massachusetts students now that the federal program has ended;
· $115 million to expand the state’s “Breakfast After The Bell” program;