In full transparency, the following is a press release from Senate President Karen Spilka’s office. (File photo of Spilka at state house)
BOSTON – The Massachusetts Legislature on Thursday passed a wide-ranging $3.76 billion relief package to provide targeted energy assistance, support ongoing transportation needs, and invest in the state’s small businesses, caregivers, health care system, affordable housing, and efforts to fight climate change.
“This compromise legislation makes critical investments to ease the financial burden facing individuals and families, puts money back in taxpayers’ pockets and helps prepare our economic landscape for new challenges,” said Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “I am proud of the significant investments made to assist residents with rising utility costs, boost affordable housing production, support our health care system, keep our climate goals on track and stabilize the early education and childcare sectors. We also take meaningful steps to ensure a record $3 billion in tax relief payments for taxpayers, the most ever in state history, is paid for. I am grateful to House Speaker Mariano, Chairs Rodrigues, Michlewitz, Lesser and Cusack, their staffs and my colleagues in Senate and House for their work on this legislation. I look forward to seeing it quickly signed into law.”
The bill now goes to the Governor for further consideration.
“As Massachusetts continues to experience rising prices and financial uncertainty, I’m proud of the action taken by the Legislature today that will help to ease the financial hardship plaguing the Commonwealth’s economy,” said House Speaker Ronald J. Mariano (D-Quincy). “From vital investments that will provide relief for rising energy costs and boost housing production, to critical support for hospitals and the MBTA, this package allocates significant funding where it is needed most, while promoting economic growth through support for our small businesses and investments in our communities. I want to thank Chairman Michlewitz and members of the conference committee, as well as Senate President Spilka and our partners in the Senate for the hard work required to get this done.”
“The agreement reached by the Senate and House conferees and passed by the Legislature today is a comprehensive relief package that supports our state’s long-term economic health and responsibly closes the books on fiscal year 2022, while positioning us to meet new challenges facing our Commonwealth’s economy,” said Senator Michael J. Rodrigues (D-Westport), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “Thank you to Senate President Spilka for her steadfast leadership and support, Senators Lesser and O’Connor for their contributions as my fellow conferees, Chair Michlewitz and the House conferees for their partnership, and to my colleagues in the Senate for their input that helped us to finally getting this bill across the finish line. Because of the advocacy of each Senator, this conference committee report reflects our commitment to provide much-needed breathing room for families and individuals facing rising costs and facing the pinch of inflation, while making targeted investments to stimulate sectors of our economy during this uncertain time.”
“This well-rounded spending package makes significant, targeted investments into major sectors of the Commonwealth’s economy. Whether it is supporting our distressed hospitals, boosting housing production across the state, providing immediate fiscal relief to the MBTA, or offering much needed fuel assistance to those who need it most, this legislation will help a wide variety of residents and industries across the Commonwealth and make us more competitive with other states” said Representative Aaron Michlewitz, Chair of the House Committee on Ways & Means (D-Boston). “I want to thank my colleagues in the Legislature for their hard work and dedication to getting the final version of this legislation over the finish line.”
“Today we put forward a final economic development and tax relief package that will address many of the pressing concerns families face in Massachusetts and empower the modern worker,” said Senator Eric P. Lesser, Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies. “With each passing year, it is getting harder and harder to plant down roots in our state with skyrocketing housing costs, rising inflation, and an economy that is increasingly dependent on innovation and new technology. This legislation helps us meet that moment and empower the worker of the future with significant investments in housing, job training, downtown revitalization, and climate resiliency. I am grateful to my colleagues for working together to craft a final bill that will alleviate those stresses for residents and encourage our Commonwealth to think big about our future.
“The Economic Development legislation will provide needed resources in a myriad of policy areas across the Commonwealth,” said Rep. Mark J. Cusack, House Chairman of the Joint Committee on Revenue. “These are much-needed funds and investments that will keep Massachusetts with a solid economic foundation. We know people and businesses are still hurting from the pandemic and we take seriously our obligation to improve our collective quality of life, particularly right now.”
In addition to $3.76 billion in direct investments, this compromise legislation ensures that the Commonwealth responsibly pays for the historic $3 billion one-time tax relief that will be returned to an estimated three million taxpayers over the coming weeks. Combined, this $6.76 billion in tax relief and direct investments will provide much-needed breathing room for families, small businesses and individuals feeling the pinch of inflation. Notably, the bill closes the books on Fiscal Year 2022 and dedicates $500 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), leaving a balance of $1.74 billion in federal resources for future use.
Over $1.4 billion invested to support health and human services programs, including:
- $350 million for hospitals that have become fiscally strained during the pandemic
- $225 million for rate increases for human service workers and providers
- $200 million for COVID-19 response efforts
- $195 million for nursing facilities and rest homes
- $80 million for Community Health Centers
· $20 million to reduce gun violence and related trauma throughout the Commonwealth, including:
- $3 million for a grant program to support school safety infrastructure improvements
- $2 million to provide behavioral health-related supports and resources in schools to reduce instances of gun violence
· $20 million to bridge impending federal cuts to Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) programs and maintain critical victim service programs
· $17.5 million for reproductive and family planning services
· $14 million for facilities that treat individuals with an alcohol or substance use disorder in the Commonwealth
· $5 million to support harm reduction efforts and services to address substance use disorder in the Commonwealth
· $2.5 million for grants to support the nursing workforce talent pipeline
$540 million invested to support clean energy and climate resiliency initiatives, including:
- $250 million to accelerate and support clean energy initiatives, including:
- $100 million to promote and accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles, through the MOR-EV program as well as supports for the expansion of electric vehicle charging infrastructure
- $100 million for ports and port infrastructure to support the clean energy economy
- $50 million for the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center to accelerate the transition to and expansion of renewable energy
$175 million for the conservation and improvement of publicly owned lands and investments in green spaces, with an emphasis on investments in environmental justice communities
- $115 million for the Massachusetts Clean Water Trust, including:
· $15 million for planning and implementing water pollution abatement project in watersheds designated as nitrogen sensitive areas
$409.5 million invested to support affordable housing, including:
- $304.5 million to support and boost housing production, including:
· $100 million for the Commonwealth Builder Program to support the production of for-sale, below market housing to expand homeownership opportunities for first-time homebuyers and socially disadvantaged individuals in communities disproportionately impacted by the 2019 novel coronavirus pandemic
· $100 million for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund established to support the
creation and preservation of affordable housing
· $100 million to support the production of workforce housing
· $50 million for the Equitable Developers Financing Program to support the development
of new housing in certain underserved communities
· $25 million for regional low-threshold housing to support individuals experiencing homelessness or housing instability and who struggle with substance use disorder
· $20 million for housing options and additional support services and resources to address the needs of immigrants and refugees
· $10 million for public housing redevelopment
Over $500 million invested to support early education, economic development, workforce development and community support initiatives, including:
· $153 million for small businesses grant relief, including $45M for minority, women, and veteran owned businesses.
· $150 million for early education and care providers through the continuation of the
Commonwealth Cares for our Children (C3) stabilization grant program, including $60 million for subsidized providers.
· $112 million to support the MBTA’s ongoing efforts to address the Federal
Transportation Administration’s staffing and safety directives
· $100 million for the state’s Unemployment Insurance Trust fund to offset estimated
overpayments made during the course of the pandemic
· $75 million for investments in broadband infrastructure and access across the
· $57 million for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), ensuring relief to families facing rising energy costs.
· $50 million to promote the attainment of debt-free higher education for students
pursuing careers in high-demand industries, such as health care, education, and
· $25 million for food security infrastructure grants
· $12 million to support the agricultural and blue economy sectors
· $2.5 million for computer science teacher development