His Excellency Charles D. Baker
Governor of the Commonwealth
State House, Boston

Dear Governor Baker,

On behalf of the cities and towns of the Commonwealth, the MMA is writing to respectfully request that you file a Chapter 90 bond bill when you submit your fiscal 2020 state budget recommendation on January 23rd. We are seeking a multi-year funding bill that includes at least $300 million annually, indexed to grow with inflation.

These much-needed funds would support local efforts to maintain 30,000 miles of municipal roads and bridges in a state of good repair. This would enhance safety for motorists, cyclists and others who use local roads and would support local economies. Our biennial local roads survey conducted in September showed that cities and towns across the Commonwealth need at least $685 million annually to bring local roads to a state of good repair, the industry standard for ensuring well-maintained roads in good condition. Currently, municipalities spend far less because regular Chapter 90 bond levels have remained stagnant at $200 million since fiscal 2012, except for 2015 when you released the supplemental $100 million authorization. This limit on Chapter 90, combined with tightly capped and oversubscribed property tax revenue, means that cities and towns do not have the resources to close the gap. Increasing the bond authorization to $300 million annually would be a great step forward.

A multi-year bill is critical because it would significantly improve the ability to plan at the local level, by adding a measure of predictability and certainty regarding the amount and the timing. When Chapter 90 funding levels differ from year to year, or the timing is uncertain, it is difficult for cities and towns to manage multi-year projects or implement long-term comprehensive pavement management plans.

We believe it is important for you to file a bill early in 2019, and for the Legislature to enact a new Chapter 90 authorization before April 1. Because cities and towns cannot award contracts based on Chapter 90 reimbursements until official notifications are received, late passage of the Chapter 90 bond bill forces communities to bid, award and start work on projects in a significantly shortened timeline and construction season, which drives up the cost of projects due to more expensive bid responses.
Thank you very much for your partnership with cities and towns on so many issues. We look forward to working closely with your Administration on this issue, and making progress on meeting local transportation funding needs during the coming weeks and months.

We send our best wishes for a joyous New Year for you, your family, and the Commonwealth.

Geoffrey C. Beckwith
Executive Director & CEO

CC: The Honorable Karyn Polito, Lieutenant Governor of the Commonwealth
Secretary Stephanie Pollack, MassDOT