The House and Senate adjourned their final formal sessions of the calendar year last night without a compromise on a multi-billion-dollar COVID recovery spending bill.

Next steps for the spending package — funded by the fiscal 2021 state surplus and state allocations under the American Rescue Plan Act — remain unclear. Under the Legislature’s rules, no formal legislative sessions can be held until the beginning of January.

Negotiations for a compromise bill may continue, but during an informal session a vote on a compromise bill could be blocked by a single legislator.

For months now, the MMA and municipalities have been expressing their desire for the administration and Legislature to act with urgency on plans for the state’s portion of ARPA funds, in order for municipalities to maximize their own ARPA allocations.

The House passed its $3.82 billion bill to spend a significant portion of the state’s multi-billion dollar fiscal 2021 surplus and its allocation from ARPA’s State and Local Coronavirus Relief Fund on Oct. 29. The Senate passed its plan, with the same $3.82 billion bottom line, on Nov. 10.

Both the House and Senate bills included major investments in housing, water and sewer infrastructure, environmental infrastructure, economic development, workforce, and health and human services.

The MMA sent a letter this week to House-Senate Conference Committee members outlining support for municipal priorities in the bills.

Gov. Charlie Baker proposed his plan to spend roughly half of the Commonwealth’s State and Local Coronavirus Relief Funds in June. And in August, the governor filed a separate supplemental budget bill to spend a large portion of the fiscal 2021 state surplus.

The Legislature passed a scaled-back supplemental budget in October, but decided at that time to delay decisions on spending much of the state surplus, preferring to work on a combined ARPA/surplus bill.

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