June 19, 2020

The Honorable Robert A. DeLeo
Speaker of the House
The Honorable Karen E. Spilka
Senate President
State House, Boston

Dear Speaker DeLeo and President Spilka,

On behalf of the cities and towns of the Commonwealth, the MMA respectfully requests that the Legislature move swiftly to finalize a Chapter 90 bond authorization for fiscal 2021, so that cities and towns can move forward on vitally important road improvement and maintenance projects during the remainder of the construction season. We know you recognize the legislation’s importance and urgency – your action to increase the Chapter 90 program to $300 million in your bills is deeply appreciated by the MMA and local officials in every corner of the state, and clearly demonstrates your strong support for your partners in local government.

As you know, while MassDOT sent a preliminary notice of local allocations to city and town officials on February 28, as required by state law, an enacted bond authorization is necessary before projects can move forward and commence in this construction season. That is because communities cannot award contracts or engage in short-term borrowing in anticipation of Chapter 90 reimbursements until the bond bill becomes law and final authorization notices are issued to communities. We are several months into the construction season, and ready-to-go projects all across the state are queuing up.

While significant questions remain concerning local and state operating budgets and revenue collections due to the COVID-19 emergency, it is fortunate that Chapter 90 reimbursements are financed through the state’s capital program. Payments for this one-year authorization are substantially separate from the general appropriations act, and are affordable under the fiscal 2021 capital plan released by the Governor earlier this week, at both the Governor’s $200 million level and the Legislature’s $300 million authorization amount.

Leading economists all agree that investment in public construction and capital improvements stimulate the economy and trigger development, growth and recovery. Thus, Chapter 90 has a positive impact far beyond keeping municipal roads safe and in good condition – it is a tool to support local businesses, create jobs, and boost economies in all parts of the state. We urge both chambers to finalize this critical funding source for local roads and bridges as soon as possible so that our municipalities can take advantage of the construction season and contribute to the statewide economic recovery process. We are hopeful that we can be part of the discussion on a comprehensive transportation bond bill and finance plan later this session. The MMA has long endorsed and supported new revenues to help modernize transportation in Massachusetts, including a long-term Chapter 90 plan and investments across the full range of transportation needs. We will continue to stand with you and all stakeholders who support bold investment to transform our state.

Time is running out on getting municipal projects started this season. We respectfully ask that the Legislature enact a Chapter 90 bond bill as soon as possible, for the benefit of all cities and towns of the Commonwealth. Please do not hesitate to have your office contact me, MMA Legislative Director John Robertson, or MMA Legislative Analyst Ariela Lovett at alovett@mma.org if you have any questions.

Thank you again for your strong partnership with the cities and towns of Massachusetts.

Sincerely,

Geoffrey C. Beckwith
MMA Executive Director & CEO

cc:
The Honorable Aaron Michlewitz, Chair, House Committee on Ways and Means
The Honorable Michael Rodrigues, Chair, Senate Committee on Ways and Means
The Honorable Antonio Cabral, Chair, House Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets
The Honorable Michael Moore, Chair, Senate Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets
The Honorable William Straus, House Chair, Joint Committee on Transportation
The Honorable Joseph Boncore, Senate Chair, Joint Committee on Transportation