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More Than 90% Of State’s ARPA Money Not Allocated

The Massachusetts state flag flies in front of the State House. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
The Massachusetts state flag flies in front of the State House. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

As of July 31, when Beacon Hill broke for the summer recess from which it is now emerging, Massachusetts had allocated a little more than $194 million of the $5.3 billion in federal money the state received in May with another $186 million planned to be implemented by January, according to a state report.

In terms of actual spending, Massachusetts provided $109 million of the Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund money to make four communities that were shortchanged by a federal formula whole and expended $47,750 of the $10 million allocated for the VaxMillions lottery giveaway. None of the $75 million put aside for a temporary emergency sick leave program had been spent, though the report said a transfer was made in June to a dedicated sick leave fund.

The figures are contained in a recovery plan performance report that the U.S. Treasury required of states, highlighting the state's use of and proposals for spending American Rescue Plan Act money in comprehensive detail.

The report breaks the $3.195 billion in approved or proposed spending down into three phases: the $194.1 million approved already, the $186 million Gov. Charlie Baker has committed from the $200 million at his disposal and the $2.9 billion spending plan Baker has been promoting for months.

The Legislature is reviewing Baker's ideas for spending $2.9 billion relatively quickly and has another $2 billion of ARPA money in the bank, most of which much be allocated by 2024 and spent by 2026. Lawmakers also have a large surplus from fiscal year 2021, in which tax collections exceeded expectations by about $5 billion, to spend or save.

That surplus was generated with help from the aid to individuals and communities that the federal government provided and the increase in economic activity when the Massachusetts economy reopened. Between fiscal year 2019 — the last budget year not influenced by the pandemic — and fiscal 2021, Massachusetts tax collections have soared $4.4 billion or 14.9%, the state detailed in an appendix to its report to the U.S. Treasury.

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