Massachusetts municipalities are doing more with less from the state as they continue to tighten their belts and rely more on local receipts to keep mounting debt obligations at bay, according to the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation’s (MTF) 46th Municipal Finance Data booklet released today.
State tax revenues in the next budget cycle will grow by only 2.65 percent, according to the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, marking another year of sluggish collections and again dampening the environment for major spending increases.
But a detailed new report by the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation shows that the anti-charter argument just doesn’t pass muster. Summarizing its deep dive into public school funding, the foundation, widely regarded as an even-handed fiscal analyst, writes: “Examination of school funding trends in districts affected by charter school enrollments does not suggest that charter schools are over-funded, that students in district schools are suffering a loss of support, or that the per-student funding of districts is trending negatively. Rather, per-student funding has increased quite steadily across the state, and the district-charter balance has been stable.”
"Theoretically, with low interest rates, sure it's a good time to borrow in a vacuum," Andrew Bagley, vice president for policy and research at MTF, told the News Service. "But we're up against the debt limit, we have an operating budget from which we just had to carve out $650 million in FY16, there are concerns about whether revenues will show up and we have debt service costs that go up every year." At $2.64 billion, the fiscal 2017 debt service allocation is up $640 million -- or 30 percent -- over fiscal 2008, according to MTF. "It's a hard time to argue that we really should be borrowing more, even though we sure do have enormous capital needs," Bagley said.
A month into fiscal 2017, some economists are keeping an eye out for signs of a funding crisis like the one that hit Massachusetts this past spring. “We will monitor to see if some sort of trend is developing,” said Andy Bagley, vice president of policy and research for the nonprofit Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation.