Baker Signs Federal Relief Transfer Bill, Needles Dems in the Process

After the Legislature rejected his original proposal to spend $2.8 billion of the state's American Rescue Plan Act funding, Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday signed legislation transferring most of the money into a separate account and renewed his push to spend more than half of the pot on a range of short-term priorities.

About $4.89 billion of the roughly $5.3 billion state government received will be swept into a fund controlled by the Legislature after Baker signed the bill (H 3827) into law. Democrats who control both branches have said they will decide how to distribute the unprecedented tranche of money after a public hearing process.

Baker also announced Monday that the administration will file new legislation seeking to spend $2.9 billion of the ARPA funds on areas such as housing and homeownership supports, economic development, job training, addiction treatment, and water and sewer infrastructure.

The new bill will include $100 million for marine port development, but otherwise mirrors Baker's original $2.8 billion suggestion that the Legislature shot down last week. His plan would leave about $2 billion in the Federal COVID-19 Response Fund that lawmakers created.

Baker, who had been at odds with legislative leaders over how to dole out the federal funding, poked at lawmakers again Monday, warning that "communities of color, the hardest hit areas of the Commonwealth, should not have to wait to have their tax dollars be put to work."

"We are eager to work with the Legislature to put these funds to work and our $2.9 billion proposal will immediately aid those hardest hit by COVID-19 like communities of color and lower-wage workers," Baker said in a statement. "This plan addresses homeownership gaps in communities of color, connects workers with in demand job-training, boosts addiction treatment services and invests in local infrastructure. It's crucial that the Legislature act quickly and not hold up these important investments.



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