MCOA Legislative Alert- Conference Committe Cuts

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MCOA Membership:

My apologies for the delay in this ALERT- there are a lot of moving parts and I wanted to make sure of the facts before I sent this email.

If you have been following the news you are aware that our Commonwealth finished FY17 in deficit to the tune of about $450million ($40billion budget = a little more than 1% deficit)

Last Friday, the Conference Committee deciding the FY18 Budget released its compromise version. They were forced to factor in the deficit and also readjust budget assumptions for this coming year.  The main under-performing revenue generator is the tax “Capital Gains” It is hypothesized that many are waiting for the Trump Tax cut before readjusting their portfolios, thus this ‘under-erformance’ is likely to continue into FY18. Whatever the cause, revenues are down.

The Conference Committee made up of 3 representatives and 3 senators (4 Democrats and 2 Republicans) are all allies of Councils on Aging.

  • Their recommendation was to cut Line Item 9110-9002 by 3%.
  • Their reasoning is that this line item is one of a very few that has received increases over the last 4 years and we needed to absorb our fair share of this deficit. Though some line items did receive increases this year, they probably did not in the past or were it was statutorily required.
  • Both the House and the Senate approved the compromised version and this plan is now on the Governor’s desk.

Governor Baker is required by law to ‘balance the budget’ so he can:

  • Sign this version as submitted; or
  • Further cut (line item veto) specific line items both language and allocations. If the Legislature choses they can override but must identify where the additional income will come from.
  • Governor Baker cannot add to the bottom line.
  • He has 10 days to complete his review.

If at any point during the coming year the revenues continue not to meet the agreed upon assumptions, Governor Baker must reduce the budget accordingly. The Legislature can then choose to override and this cycle can repeat itself until the budget is balanced.

The 3% cut to our line item totaled $423,000 below FY17 GAA.

In addition, you will notice below that the Legislature added 14 earmarks for a total of $635,000.

It would be easy to jump to the conclusion, as I did, that the Committee robbed ‘Peter to pay Paul’- However that would be a wrong assumption.  The 3% cut was predetermined because of our success over the last four years. The earmarks, actually all earmarks, are on a different decision making track. Once the budget is finalized, a ‘list’ of earmarks designated, and they are then added back into their corresponding line items.  In other words, our reduction from $14,030,000 to $13,607,000 is set in stone no matter what other adjustments are made.

In addition, it is fully expected that Governor Baker will take a hard look at all earmarks and ‘probably’ will line item veto ‘most’ of them as he did last year. If he does veto these earmarks both the language and designated allocation go.

As in the past most COA Directors are unaware that the legislature made these earmarks-so don’t beat up on your colleagues.

Next steps: We will know more after the release of the final GAA (post Governor- July 17).  MCOA Board has been active over the weekend and as this week started, to begin assessing the impact. The Advisory Council will address the cut on Thursday and MCOA staff have been instructed to answer technical questions but not give opinions about any specific cuts due to a potential conflict of interest. The Board will make a recommendation to EOEA by the end of this month.  Secretary Bonner will make the final decision.

The 3%-line item cut will mean all SIG grants will most likely be cut and probably the COA Formula Grant as well, because the FG comprises 90% of the allocation. But it is too early and too many moving parts to finalize any specifics today.  For a reference point 3% cut to FG would mean $9.70/elder- the worst-case scenario.

I just wanted to give you all a heads up that cuts are coming and you will need to readjust your FY18 budgets. We hope to know more by early August.

Stay tuned!

David P. Stevens
Executive Director
Massachusetts Councils on Aging
Cell 413.539.0565

FY18 Conference Committee Report
Source: https://malegislature.gov/Budget/ConferenceCommittee

Line Item: 9110-9002
For grants to the councils on aging and for grants to or contracts with
nonpublic entities which are consortia or associations of councils on
aging; provided, that notwithstanding the foregoing, all funds
appropriated in this item shall be expended in accordance with the
distribution schedules for formula and incentive grants established by the
secretary of elder affairs; provided further, that not less than
$25,000 shall be expended on a grant for the Quincy department of
elder affairs; provided further, that not less than $25,000 shall be
expended on the West Brookfield Senior Center; provided further, that
not less than $30,000 shall be expended to the town of Norwell for the
purchase of an emergency generator for the Norwell Senior Center;
provided further, that not less than$50,000 shall be expended on the
Seekonk Senior Center; provided further, that not less than $75,000 shall
be expended on the Whipple senior center of Weymouth; provided
further, that $25,000 shall be expended on the South Boston
Neighborhood House; provided further, that not less than $100,000 shall
be expended on the Dedham Council on Aging; provided further, that not
less than $150,000 shall be expended on the Arlington senior center;
provided further, that not less than $10,000 shall be expended for the
Pioneer Valley Project Inc. for outreach and education to the senior
citizens in the North End, South End and Forest Park; provided further,
that not less than $15,000 shall be expended on the Carver council on
aging; provided further, that not less than $15,000shall be expended on
the Billerica Friends of the council on aging; provided further, that not
less than $50,000 shall be expended for the expansion of the council on
aging building in the city of Brockton; provided further, that not less than
$15,000 shall be allocated for the operation of the Alzheimer's caregivers
respite program at the Brookline Senior Center; provided further, that not
less than $50,000 shall be expended to the town of Duxbury for
improvements at the Duxbury Senior Center; and provided further, that
the distribution schedules shall be submitted to the house and senate
committees on ways and means not later than February 15,
2018............ .................................................................................................... $14,242,900