Statement from Auditor Bump on Legislature Passing FY2013 Budget
I applaud both the House and Senate for relieving our local schools of a burdensome unfunded mandate amidst an extremely difficult budget process. Their 2013 budget will completely reimburse school systems affected last year by a state program related to busing and educating homeless school children.
In October I made the determination that the state’s embrace of the federal McKinney-Vento homeless transportation program requires school systems to incur new costs outside their historic responsibility. Through legal analysis we found both the cost of transporting a homeless child to another school district and the cost of educating a child who does not reside in the school district to be an unfunded mandate.
In February we were able to calculate that the FY2012 McKinney-Vento burden on cities and towns will amount to $11.3 million, and that 33 communities will spend more than $100,000 to meet this state requirement. The costs incurred are largely unpredictable and have the potential of forcing schools to cut teachers and enlarge class sizes in tight budget conditions.
I commend Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Therese Murray for their responsiveness, foresight, and respect for the local mandates process. I urge Governor Deval Patrick to approve this appropriation in the final budget. This funding will not just relieve the Commonwealth of a legal obligation, but it will also improve our schools.