With the Legislature focused on the state budget process, separate Chapter 90 bond bills passed by the House and Senate in March have yet to be reconciled.

A conference committee has not been created, so it appears likely that the two chambers are looking to reach a resolution through informal channels.

On March 23, the House passed a Chapter 90 bill that would authorize $200 million for the local road and bridge program for fiscal 2024, while adding $25 million authorizations for each of six multi-year transportation-related accounts:
Municipal Pavement Program
Municipal Small Bridge Program
Complete Streets Funding Program
• Municipal grants for infrastructure focused on the enhancement of mass transit by bus
• Funding for the study, design, construction or improvements that increase access to mass transit and commuter rail stations
• Grants to municipalities and regional transit authorities to support fleet electrification

The Senate passed a very similar bill on March 30, funding Chapter 90 at $200 million and adding $150 million in transportation-related authorizations. Rather than authorizing $25 million for the municipal pavement program, however, the Senate proposed a new $25 million formula program that would be based on road miles and population density, favoring communities with low population density.

The differences in the two bills will need to be addressed before the legislation can move forward.

Gov. Maura Healey got this year’s Chapter 90 bond authorization process started on Jan. 19 when she filed a two-year bill totalling $400 million, or $200 million per year. The Legislature revised the bill to authorize bonding for only one year at $200 million.

The MMA and municipal officials testified before the Joint Committee on Transportation in March in support of the two-year authorization proposed by Healey, while requesting an increase to at least $330 million per year, indexed to inflation. In written testimony, the MMA emphasized community needs and the impact of inflation on the Chapter 90 program, which has lost two-thirds of its purchasing power while being essentially level-funded over the past 11 years.

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