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How Could Proposed Local Aid Cuts Impact Needham?

Gov. Deval Patrick announced plans to cut the state's local aid for the current fiscal year. But what could that mean for Needham?

 

Earlier this week, Governor Deval Patrick's office proposed a series of cuts aimed at closing up a half-billion dollar budget gap. The bulk of the cuts come from spending cuts in the Executive Branch, but some affect local programs or education. 

Many of these cuts will need legislative approval before they go into effect for the current fiscal year. 

According to a press release about the proposal, "The governor’s proposed plan ensures virtually all impacted programs and services will receive no less funding than last year and that no cuts will be made to Chapter 70 education funding."

In particular, Patrick's proposal cuts $11.5 million from the state's Special Education Circuit Breaker reimbursement program, a move that the governor can enact without the legislature's approval.

That $11.5 million represents 4.75 percent of the overall Circuit Breaker line item in the state budget. In Needham, the expected FY13 Circuit Breaker reimbursement is $1,756,245, meaning a 4.75 percent reduction to that would impact Needham to the tune of about $83,000.

If Patrick moves forward with a proposed 1 percent reduction in the state's unrestricted local aid, which "funds municipal services including police and fire protection, parks, and public works," according to the state budget center. This cut would require approval by the legislature.

With the town getting about $1.3 million this year, a one percent cut would represent about a $13,000 loss. 

Earlier this week, the Director of Financial Operations for Needham's Schools, Anne Gulati told Patch, "The state has not yet confirmed what the specific dollar reduction will be for Needham, but we do not expect the magnitude of the revenue loss to be significant."

Patrick's current budget gap plan includes $200 million from the Rainy Day Fund, bringing the total draw to $550 million in FY13 – leaving a balance of $1.2 billion. Massachusetts has the third-largest reserve fund in the U.S.

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