Here’s what $3.5 billion would be used for if Gov. Baker’s new bill passes
The governor wants to invest in many aspects of the Commonwealth.
Gov. Charlie Baker filed legislation Thursday that would invest $3.5 billion into many different aspects of the Commonwealth, including infrastructure, climate resiliency, affordable housing, and revitalizing cities and towns.
The legislation, An Act Investing in Future Opportunities for Resiliency, Workforce, and Revitalized Downtowns (FORWARD), includes $2.3 billion in funding from the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and over $1.25 billion in capital bonds.
“The Commonwealth has an opportunity to make significant investments now to help our communities and local economies emerge stronger in a post-pandemic world,” Baker said in a news release.
“The FORWARD legislation will make investments in every municipality in Massachusetts, strengthening downtowns, improving the resiliency of infrastructure, and giving workers the tools they need to succeed in today’s economy.”
Within the bill, there are six categories of investments — climate resiliency and preservation, revitalizing downtowns and communities, COVID-19 responses, workforce, housing, and innovation.
For climate resiliency and preservation, the bill includes $750 million in clean energy investments; $232 million for parks, trails, and campground expansion and rehabilitation; $97 million for coastal infrastructure projects; and $64 million for clean water projects, among other investments.
For revitalizing downtowns and communities, the bill includes nearly $550 million for MassWorks grants for local infrastructure projects, $108 million for downtown recovery grants for 246 municipalities, and $50 million for the Revitalizing Underutilized Properties Program, among other investments.
In terms of investing in the state’s COVID-19 response, the bill includes $250 million for fiscally distressed hospitals and $100 million for future COVID-19 response needs, among other investments.
Other notable investments in other categories include a $300 million transfer to the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund to address unemployment overpayments, $243 million for programs increasing affordable rental housing and public housing, and $200 million for matching funds for anticipated federal grants in the technology industry.
States need to commit their ARPA funds to projects by the end of 2024 and spend the money by the end of 2026. Baker said in the release that the bill prioritizes investing ARPA funding into projects that are already sufficiently defined and narrow in scope so that they can be completed by 2026.
State House News Service reported that passing an economic development bill towards the end of each legislative session is now standard practice.
The service said the bill often ends up with lots of hyperlocal allocations of cash, and can help get legislative priorities quickly funded.
Stay up to date on all the latest news from Boston.com