By Carly Sitrin
BU News Service
Governor Charlie Baker announced a 4.3 percent increase in unrestricted local aid for cities and towns under the Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 budget proposal at the Massachusetts Municipal Association’s annual conference Friday.
The increase, which was part of Baker’s campaign promise, amounts to over $42 million and reflects the same growth rate in tax revenue proposed in the FY 2017 budget.
“This was something that we committed to,” Baker said, addressing more than 900 local officials from around Massachusetts. “We think you have done a lot of important work to help us craft a bill that can make life far better, less complicated, more effective and more efficient for you as you do the hard work of serving the folks in your communities.”
Baker also announced a $72 million increase in funding to Chapter 70, the state education program, and a $2 million Information Technology (IT) Grant Program as part of his Community Compact initiative.
“[The IT grant is] for those communities that want to pursue different approaches and new ideas and best practices in information technology and that’s something that we believe can help all of us,” said Baker.
Referring to his State of the Commonwealth address on Thursday, the governor also said he would put “significant funding in [the budget]” to support local and state police as they tackle the trafficking side of opioid drugs in the state.
“We’ve been very clear as an administration about our commitment to do a better job with prevention, education, treatment and recovery for people who are addicted to these terrible and dangerous drugs,” said Baker.
With Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, the governor said his administration was putting more focus and funding into supporting local governments and communities and would be seeking an additional $200 million appropriation for improving locals roads and bridges under Chapter 90.
“We both said it was important to us that we build a strong relationship with the commonwealth cities and towns…we believe you’ve been terrific partners working with us and look forward to working with you going forward.”