Jill Cahill, Gloucester’s chief administrative officer, testifies in support of Chapter 90 bond bill during the Joint Committee on Transportation’s hybrid meeting on Jan. 30.

On Jan. 30, the MMA and several municipal officials testified before the Joint Committee on Transportation in support of Gov. Maura Healey’s Chapter 90 bond bill.

The municipal panel focused on the importance of the Chapter 90 local road and bridge program for communities in every corner of the state. Several MMA members highlighted specific projects that the reimbursement program has funded, as well as the direct and indirect benefits of the program, including supporting economic development, housing projects, and climate resiliency.

Members pointed out that inflation has eroded the program’s purchasing power over the past dozen years, but highlighted the benefits of a two-year authorization rather than the traditional one-year bill.

The governor’s two-year Chapter 90 bond bill, filed on Jan. 22, would fund the program at $200 million per year, where base funding has been set since fiscal 2012. Two days later, however, the governor filed her fiscal 2025 state budget proposal, which proposes an additional $124 million to support local road and bridge maintenance. Combined, the proposals would provide $324 million for fiscal 2025, just $1 million shy of the local road aid provided for the current fiscal year.

The MMA expressed deep appreciation for the local road investments made by the governor and the Legislature in fiscal 2024, which are helping to offset the purchasing power loss that communities continue to face.

The MMA has long advocated for a multi-year Chapter 90 authorization, along with a significant increase. At the MMA Annual Meeting on Jan. 20, members approved a fiscal resolution that advocates for a multi-year authorization of at least $350 million per year, indexed to inflation. The resolution also supports funding for a rural roads program.

At the Jan. 30 hearing, local officials said they are eager to put the road funds to work early in the construction season. It’s a hopeful sign that the hearing was held more than a month ahead of when it was held last year.

The MMA also provided written testimony to the committee.

The Joint Committee on Transportation may offer amendments to the bill before moving it to the next stage of the legislative process. In recent years, the committee has included authorizations for additional transportation-related grant programs along with the Chapter 90 authorization.

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