Resolution Relative to Investments in Municipal Capital Projects to Facilitate Economic Growth and Protect the Health and Safety of Citizens (2015)

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As adopted by the members on January 24, 2015.

Whereas, a modern and sustainable transportation system, investments in clean water and in all other capital assets of local government are essential for economic growth and a high quality of life in Massachusetts; and

Whereas, public construction and investment are a vital source of jobs, with estimates showing that every $1 billion spent by federal, state and local governments creates or supports nearly 28,000 jobs; and

Whereas, the Massachusetts Transportation Finance Commission determined that there is a transportation funding deficit of approximately $20 billion over the next two decades, including a $1 billion gap in the Chapter 90 program; and

Whereas, funding for Chapter 90 has not kept pace with increases in the cost of materials and labor, as evidenced by a MMA survey of cities and towns that determined that the actual need for the Chapter 90 program is more than $562 million a year; and

Whereas, the Massachusetts Water Infrastructure Finance Commission estimated that there is a $20 billion gap between current resources and the actual amount needed to maintain and repair our existing water and wastewater infrastructure over the next 20 years, in addition to an $18 billion funding gap in the amount needed to comply with proposed federal stormwater regulations; and

Whereas, the cities and towns of Massachusetts are national leaders as environmental stewards, embracing renewable energy, protecting and preserving land and natural resources, and providing safe, clean and affordable drinking water, wastewater and stormwater management systems; and

Whereas, cities and towns would increase capital investments and pursue projects more quickly and with greater innovation, but are frequently stymied by state and federal regulations and rules that impose additional requirements and costs, often based on incomplete scientific analysis and review, without any additional appropriations; and

Whereas, cities and towns in Massachusetts must receive increased resources and revenues from the state and federal governments in order to maintain their local public infrastructure in sustainable condition; and

Whereas, the MMA has been a leading member of a statewide coalition of key stakeholders working to educate the public and state regarding the infrastructure needs of the Commonwealth;

Therefore, in order to expand local and regional economies, build and maintain local roads and bridges, protect the public health and safety, and preserve our educational and cultural resources, it is hereby resolved by the members of the Massachusetts Municipal Association as follows:

• The MMA shall continue its leadership role in advocating for municipal capital construction and maintenance programs as necessary elements to grow the Massachusetts economy in all parts of the state and protect the safety and health of residents of the Commonwealth;

• The Governor and the Legislature should use bond authorizations and the state’s capital spending plan to help cities and towns fund essential capital projects that support a modern economy and vibrant communities across the Commonwealth, including roads and bridges, drinking water, wastewater and stormwater systems, schools, libraries and cultural facilities, high-speed Internet access, and public safety facilities and equipment;

• The Governor should file early in 2015 and the Legislature should approve a multi-year local government transportation bond bill with at least $300 million in annual Chapter 90 local road fund authorizations, indexed to grow annually with inflation, with 100 percent of those funds released to cities and towns by the Governor in a timely manner each year;

• Recognizing that transportation investments are vital to our nation’s economic recovery, Congress and the President should prioritize the formulation and passage of a long-term surface transportation bill of at least five years that includes competitive grant funding opportunities that are directly accessible to municipalities;

• The Governor should request and the Legislature should fund the full $138 million capital assistance line item for the Clean Water Trust to provide the additional level of loans and other assistance for water projects approved as part of the 2014 water infrastructure finance act;

• The Governor should file and the Legislature should enact a local government environmental bond bill with at least $200 million annually in grants to fund drinking water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure improvements, as recommended by the Water Infrastructure Finance Commission;

• The state Legislature, the Governor, the Commonwealth’s administrative agencies, the U.S. Congress, the President, and federal agencies should commit to a cooperative partnership with municipalities by reducing regulatory reviews and financial approval processes, and should reject all proposals that would impose unfunded mandates and undermine this partnership;

• The Governor should include support for local economic development initiatives in all parts of the state in the state’s capital spending plan, including loans and grants through the Brownfields Redevelopment Fund, bond authorizations through the MassWorks Infrastructure program, as well as support for tax credits through the Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit program;

• The Governor should request and the Legislature should approve lifting the public net metering cap and ensure the continuation of solar renewable energy credits to allow municipal renewable energy projects to advance, giving cities and towns the capacity to continue to build a statewide renewable energy infrastructure that is among the strongest in the nation;

• The Governor should, in close cooperation with municipalities and related groups, include development of the “last mile” high-speed Internet access for un-served and underserved areas of the Commonwealth in the state’s capital spending plan using the full amount included in the 2014 Information Technology (IT) Bond Act, and state leaders should assure the authority of municipalities to provide telecommunication services at their local option;

• State leaders should continue to support adequate resources for the Massachusetts School Building Authority, and include funding for libraries and other cultural facility capital projects in the state’s capital spending plan; and

Be it further resolved that a copy of this resolution shall be presented to the Governor, the members of the Massachusetts Legislature, the members of the Massachusetts Congressional Delegation, and the President of the United States on behalf of the cities and towns of the Commonwealth.