Ch. 90 bill goes to conference committee

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The House, Senate and governor all agree on a $200 million funding level for the fiscal 2013 Chapter 90 local road and bridge program, but a dispute over the scope of a transportation bond bill has put the brakes on the funding.

In March, Gov. Deval Patrick filed a $1.5 billion transportation bond bill that included the $200 million for Chapter 90. With an April 1 deadline approaching, the House on March 28 passed a $200 million Chapter 90 bill, while setting aside the rest of the governor’s proposal in order to expedite the local road aid.

On April 12, the Senate reverted to the governor’s proposal, passing $1.5 billion transportation bond bill with $200 million for Chapter 90.

With the House and Senate unable to agree, the dispute is heading to a House-Senate conference committee, a process that is likely to further delay Chapter 90 funding.

Cities and towns have received letters from the state informing them how much they should expect in Chapter 90 aid, but they can’t sign contracts to begin projects until the governor signs a bill endorsed by both branches.

The MMA and local officials have urged lawmakers to pass a bond bill quickly to ensure that cities and towns can take full advantage of the construction season.

Even after a bill is passed and signed, the release of Chapter 90 funding will be dependent on passage of a “terms bill,” which has yet to be filed. Last year, Chapter 90 funding wasn’t released until September due to a delay of the terms bill.
Written by MMA Publications Editor & Web Director John Ouellette