By: State Rep. Linda Dean Campbell
The Massachusetts House of Representatives has passed legislation to invest $350 million in key transportation improvements across the Commonwealth – a necessary investment for economic growth and quality of life in our communities. The bill includes $200 million for the Chapter 90 program, which provides funding to cities and towns for road improvement projects. Of this funding, Methuen is expected to receive nearly $1.2 million, and Haverhill is expected to receive roughly $1.5 million.
The bill also allocates substantial additional funding to be distributed to communities in the form of grants – including $40 million to repair non-federally aided roads and bridges; $30 million for bridge repairs through the Municipal Small Bridge Program; $30 million for the Complete Streets Program to help our streets accommodate various transit options (e.g. biking, walking, driving); $25 million to increase access to public transit and commuter rail stations; and $25 million to enhance bus transit. This funding will have a tangible impact on residents’ day-to-day lives, making transportation easier and safer.
The Massachusetts House and Senate also passed a $1.67 billion funding bill to support the immediate needs of residents, businesses, and cities and towns, while also taking advantage of timely federal reimbursement opportunities.
The bill includes $100 million for rent assistance, $20 million for fuel assistance, and $100 million for grants to cities and towns to repair roads that suffered winter damage. Additional highlights include $55 million to increase rates for human service providers and $140 million to support staffing and program needs at special education schools.
The bill also allocates $10 million to aid in the resettlement of Ukrainian refugees and directs the Commonwealth to divest state pension funds from Russian-involved companies.
To continue support for our restaurant industry, the bill extends authorization for outdoor dining and to-go cocktails for another year. It also exempts the Commonwealth’s COVID-19 bonuses for essential workers from state income tax, ensuring workers receive the maximum benefit from these payments.
Our Commonwealth also has the opportunity to take advantage of federal FEMA reimbursements to proactively prepare for future variants of COVID-19.
As such, this bill allocates $700 million for COVID-related costs, including $433 million for testing, $125 million for workforce costs, $72 million for treatments, and $45 million for expanding vaccination access. The bill is now before the Governor.
State Representative Linda Dean Campbell represents the cities of Methuen and Haverhill in the State Legislature. She serves as House Chair of the Joint Committee on Advanced IT, the Internet and Cybersecurity. She can be reached at Linda.Campbell@mahouse.gov or (617) 722-2676. ◊