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How Could Proposed Local Aid Cuts Impact Wellesley?

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

 

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 Wellesley, the expected FY13 Circuit Breaker reimbursement is $ 2,571,899, meaning a 4.75 percent reduction to that would impact Wellesley to the tune of about $122,000.

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.

According to Wellesley Finance Director Sheryl Strother, a one percent cut would be around $10,000. She added that the town is watching the legislative process, and will plan accordingly.

However, State Senator Cindy Creem (D-Newton) told Patch this week she is not in favor of giving the Governor the power to cut local aid. Instead of bringing "unexpected cuts" to cities and towns, she hopes the state can look toward the rainy day fund to fill in the gaps.

Creem said she is not one who typically jumps at using the rainy day fund, but notes that Massachusetts has the third-largest reserve fund in the U.S. , $1.2 billion will be left over, after the FY13 draw of $550 million under the proposal.

"Now is not the time to cut," Creem said.

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