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LISTEN LIVE: All Things Considered

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Baker again plans $200 million for local roads, bridges

Gov. Charlie Baker speaks to press in June of 2021. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Gov. Charlie Baker speaks to press in June of 2021. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Gov. Charlie Baker again plans to propose $200 million in new local road and bridge repair funding.

Municipal officials have consistently sought a $300 million annual allocation as well as a multi-year funding commitment, but have been unable to convince Baker or House and Senate Democrats to agree to their approach.

The governor disclosed his plans during virtual remarks Saturday morning to the Massachusetts Municipal Association, a collection of local officials who are looking for more revenue-sharing as state tax collections are pouring in at record levels.

Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller expressed disappointment with Friday's announcement by Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito that cities and towns will get a 2.7 percent, $31.5 million increase in unrestricted local aid under the budget that Baker plans to file on Wednesday.

Citing high inflation and limits on property tax increases, Fuller called the slight increase in the $1.2 billion account "the worst of news," adding, "A lot of us were expecting a higher number given the state revenue growth in the last few years."

Gov. Baker said his administration kept its promise to tie unrestricted aid increases to projected increases in state tax revenues, and did not return to municipalities earlier in his tenure to ask for money back when collections fell short of projections.

Baker didn't rule out additional revenue-sharing proposals later this year.

"The deal was the deal and we honored it when it didn't work for us," Baker said. "And I think in some ways there are a lot of different places and spaces in which we can support you guys on this if it turns out that we have an oversupply of state revenue as we head toward the end of the year and we'll certainly be willing to talk about that."

Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey outlined for local officials the flood of new federal funds available across Massachusetts under new federal laws, urging them to engage in ongoing efforts to make sure those funds are invested wisely.

Warren and Markey also said they are working to preserve whatever is possible in the so-called Build Back Better bill, legislation featuring an array of domestic spending initiatives that Washington Democrats have so far been unable to pass.

"We need to make sure that we get this bill passed," Markey said.

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