Governor Baker, Lt. Governor Polito Announce New Climate Adaptation Programs
Jan 29, 2019 06:33AM
Governor Charlie Baker, Lt. Governor Karyn Polito
BOSTON – At the Massachusetts Municipal Association’s (MMA) Annual Meeting, Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito outlined a number of initiatives to invest in the Commonwealth’s communities including new climate adaptation programs and significant support for local aid. These proposals will be filed next week as part of the Administration’s Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20) budget.
“Over the last four years, we have increasingly witnessed the effects that climate change has on communities and infrastructure across the Commonwealth, and know that the investments we make today are critical to ensure cities and towns are prepared to face the challenges of tomorrow,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “This proposal will build on the over $600 million we have already invested to mitigate and prepare for the adverse effects of climate change and help to build more resilient communities, and we look forward to working with the Legislature to get this passed.”
“The Commonwealth’s communities have a reliable partner in our Administration, and this budget will continue the commitment we have made to increase local aid for cities and towns,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “We are also filing a Chapter 90 bill today, which will support important transportation infrastructure improvements in all 351 communities.”
Climate Adaptation Programs
To build on the work the Administration has done to prepare the Commonwealth’s communities to withstand the effects of climate change, the Administration will propose to dedicate $75 million in FY20 for a substantial and sustained investment to protect Massachusetts’ residents, communities, economy, and infrastructure. This investment will be supported by a modest increase in the excise on real estate transfers, and will amount to $137 million on an ongoing, annualized basis for the Global Warming Solutions Trust Fund.
This funding will be made available for cities and towns to invest in climate-smart infrastructure and will support other initiatives to help build resilient communities including:
- Loans, grants, and other assistance to communities for investments identified through the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness program, including stormwater upgrades, dams and flood controls, drainage and culvert improvements, drought mitigation strategies, nature-based solutions and other adaptation strategies
- Preparation of detailed state asset vulnerability assessments that use climate change projections and risk analysis to direct policy and investment to protect Massachusetts residents’ health, safety, and well-being while continuing to steward the natural resources of the Commonwealth
- Assistance for state and local agencies in prioritizing, planning, and retrofitting these vulnerable assets, including dams and flood controls, transportation infrastructure, critical care facilities, water resources, and other key infrastructure
- Development and implementation of a climate-smart land use framework, including a coastal protection strategy, as well as regionally appropriate resilient land use practices for diverse inland communities
Under the proposal, the Commonwealth’s deeds excise rate, paid at time of sale, is proposed to increase from $2 per $500 of value to $3 (from $1.50 per $500 of value to $2.50 in Barnstable County). This represents an all-in rate increase of 0.228. The excise is paid by the seller upon the transfer of property.
“The Baker-Polito Administration has assembled a fiscally-responsible budget for Fiscal Year 2020 and we are pleased that the plan supports the priorities of the Commonwealth’s cities and towns,” said Secretary of Administration and Finance Michael J. Heffernan. “We are proud of our continuing collaboration with local officials as we work together to continue meeting the needs of the people of Massachusetts.”
Chapter 90, Unrestricted General Government Aid, and Community Compact
The Administration will also include a total of $1.129 billion in unrestricted general government aid, or UGGA, an increase equal to 100% of the projected state tax revenue growth rate (2.7%) in the FY20 budget. This is an increase of $30 million over Fiscal Year 2019, and would represent an increase of nearly $183 million since the Baker-Polito Administration took office.
The FY20 operating budget proposal will include $6.8 million for Community Compact-related programs. All 351 cities and towns have signed a compact with the state and have chosen a total of 900 best practices to address the needs of their communities. Since 2015 the Administration has provided $22.8 million to municipalities through the Community Compact program, representing a combination of operating and capital grants, through three programs: the best practices grant program, the efficiency and regionalization grant program and the IT grant program.
In the FY20 operating budget, the Administration will propose $2 million for the best practices program and $2 million for the efficiency and regionalization program. The Administration also plans to include $3 million in its FY20 capital investment plan, which will be released later this year, to continue the compact’s IT grant program.
The Administration will include $2.8 million in FY20 for the District Local Technical Assistance Program, which supports the Commonwealth’s 13 regional planning agencies with technical issues dealing with economic development, housing, transportation and environmental projects at the local level.
The Lt. Governor also announced that the Baker-Polito Administration today filed a bill seeking $200 million in Chapter 90 transportation funds, which will support all 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts. Since taking office in 2015, the Baker-Polito Administration has awarded a total of $940 million through the Chapter 90 formula, including $100 million on its first day in office.
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