State Legislators Fight Back on 9C Cuts/ Unfunded Mandates

The following letter that was sent to Deval Patrick today was forwarded to me via email.

October 30, 2009

His Excellency Deval L. Patrick

Governor of the Commonwealth

Room 360, State House

Boston, MA 02133

RE: 9c Cut to Local Aid – Regional School Transportation Account 7035-0006

Dear Governor Patrick,

           We write to respectfully request that you reconsider your nearly 50% cut to Regional School Transportation Reimbursement as part of your plan to close the $600 million gap in the Fiscal Year 2010 budget. While we respect your efforts to leave local aid and Chapter 70 untouched, we are compelled to point out that Regional School Transportation is local aid to towns in regional school districts as much as is Chapter 70 aid and the lottery formula. Districts that receive a cut from this account will be forced to make up for it by cuts to their education budgets. Simply stated, a Chapter 71 cut in regional school districts is, essentially, the equivalent of a Chapter 70 cut.

           Because of the mandate that regional school districts must provide student transportation and because regional school districts cannot go back to their member towns for additional funding, the only avenue left to make up the transportation cuts is in the education budget. Cutting regional school transportation is cutting education aid to regional school districts. This means that, in regional school districts, the cuts to personnel and services your Administration is trying to avoid will, in fact, occur. Combining transportation routes, especially in regional districts in the western part of the commonwealth would place an extreme burden on students who would then be required to ride a school bus route for inordinate amounts of time.

           Furthermore, we do not believe a credible argument can be made in favor of further regionalization while the schools that are already regionalized are being cut disproportionally. Municipal leaders have seen incentives for regionalization dry up over the years. This is not a new problem, but it is particularly relevant given the Administration’s agenda for regionalization.

           Our final objection lies in the proportion of the cut the Regional School Transportation Account will receive compared to other accounts. The top cut is $31,997,759 to the University of Massachusetts but that is offset by Federal Stimulus funds. Regional School Transportation has not seen full 100% funding in several decades but the cuts in the recent recession have been draconian. The account (7035-0006) was funded at $40,521,840 in FY10 after being cut from $61,300,000 in FY09. With this cut of an additional $18,000,000, the account will stand at $22,521,840; a nearly 63% cut in one year!

           We request you consider either supplementing this account with Federal Stimulus funds, if possible, as you have for Higher Education accounts or consider reducing this cut. We stand ready to offer our assistance in this matter and thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

CLEON H. TURNER                                                REP. STEPHEN KULIK

STATE REPRSENTATIVE                                         STATE REPRSENTATIVE

1st Barnstable District                                                    1st Franklin District      

DENIS E. GUYER                                                     LEWIS G. EVANGELIDIS

STATE REPRSENTATIVE                                         STATE REPRSENTATIVE

2nd Berkshire District                                                    1st Worcester District

STEPHEN M. BREWER

STATE SENATOR

Worcester, Hampden,

Hampshire, and Franklin

CC:      Speaker Robert DeLeo

Senate President Therese Murray

Administration & Finance Secretary Jay Gonzalez

Secretary of Education, Paul Reville

Rep. Martha M. Walz, House Chair – Joint Committee on Education

Sen. Robert A. O’Leary, Senate Chair – Joint Committee on Education

About Rob "EaBo Clipper" Eno