Gov. Charlie Baker announced today that he’s filing a $2.4 billion spending bill that includes funding for critical municipal programs, including a $100 million supplemental distribution for the Chapter 90 local road and bridge program, $100 million to help municipalities repair winter road damage, and $150 million for climate change grants, including the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness program.

The governor’s bill draws from two revenue sources: fiscal 2022 state tax collections, which have far exceeded initial expectations, and $800 million in federal COVID recovery aid.

“Massachusetts remains in a strong fiscal position, which enables us to use surplus fiscal year 2022 revenues to sustain our efforts to respond to COVID-19 and invest in areas like early education, human services, housing and more,” the governor said in a prepared statement.

Chapter 90
A $100 million supplemental Chapter 90 distribution would provide a much-needed infusion to this important program, according to the MMA and local leaders across the state. Base Chapter 90 funding has been level-funded at $200 million since 2012, while road construction costs have increased by 42% over that period.

Baker’s bill would use $100 million from the state’s revenue surplus to provide an immediate boost to Chapter 90 that can be put to work right away, with the construction season about to begin in just a few weeks.

The MMA, meanwhile, will continue to advocate for timely enactment of a separate Chapter 90 bond bill this spring that provides $300 million in fiscal 2023 so that long-term repairs can get underway as well.

Winter road repairs
The governor’s bill includes $100 million for grants to municipalities for a winter recovery assistance program. Funds could be used for projects including the rehabilitation, reconstruction, resurfacing or preservation of roadways. Grant funds could also be used for the repair or replacement of traffic control devices, signage, guardrails, storm grates, road striping or painting.

Environment and climate
Baker’s bill includes $150 million to fund climate change resiliency initiatives, including the MVP program. To date, 93% of Massachusetts municipalities are enrolled in the MVP program. In the most recent MVP grant funding round, $20.6 million was distributed through both planning and action grants.

With such a high engagement rate and thousands of priority projects identified through the planning process in communities across the state, requests for action grants far exceed available funding (from the Global Warming Solutions Trust Fund).

The governor’s proposed spending would enable more projects to be approved in each MVP grant round and provide a stable source of long-term funding as the program expands its reach.

Link to the administration’s press release about the supplemental budget bill

Written by