Today, the House and Senate finalized negotiations on the Economic Development Bill (H. 5374). We do an “Ec Dev” bill at the end of every session. It is mostly a spending bill. This year, our legislation needed serious reevaluation as a result of the application of Chapter 62F. Negotiations continued from the end of July until today (November 3).
The $6.7 billion bill rolls in the $3 billion in Chapter 62F reimbursements to assure that they are returned from FY22 surplus, not from FY23 funds. It spends an additional $3.76 billion in “one-time funds.” I’m especially pleased with the bill’s strong support of the Human Services Sector, Clean Energy and Affordable Housing.
In addition to the major items summarized further below, the bill includes local spending items across the state, including the following House and Senate initiatives in my district:
- $300,000 for design of bicycle, pedestrian and vehicle safety improvements on Grove Street in Belmont — this goes along with a $3,000,000 construction cost earmark already passed in the Transportation Bond Bill (Sen. Brownsberger);
- $250,000 for improvements in public housing in Belmont (Rep. Rogers);
- $100,000 towards the rink project in Belmont (Rep. Rogers);
- $100,000 towards the library project in Belmont (Rep. Rogers);
- $210,000 for rehab of O’Reilly Plaza in Fenway (Sen. Brownsberger);
- $50,000 for the Fenway Cares Initiative for food insecure residents of Boston (Rep. Livingstone)
- $900,000 for rehab of Saltonstall Park in Watertown (Sen. Brownsberger);
- $6,000,000 for upgrade of fencing and open land along the MassPike in Brighton (Rep. Moran);
- $9,000,000 for improvement of the intersection of Western Avenue, Soldiers Field road and Birmingham parkway in Brighton (Rep. Moran);
- $35,000 for improvements to Ringer Park in Allston (Rep. Honan).
The originally approved versions of the economic development bill included a host of “outside sections” addressing a range of policy issues that hadn’t made it through the legislative process as standalone bills. For example, I inserted a version of Digital Right to Repair as an amendment to the senate version of Ec Dev. Essentially none of these outside sections were adopted in the final conference report — that is not an unexpected outcome: It is hard enough for the budget conferees to negotiate the financial terms, never mind complex collateral policy issues.
The summary below of the largest pieces of the Economic Development Bill (H. 5374) is derived from a presentation made to Senators today by Mike Rodriques, Chair of Senate Ways and Means Committee.
The conference report includes $6.7B in critical investments and relief, including:
- $3.76B gross ($2.85B net) in investments between the economic development bill and FY 2022 closeout supplemental budget.
- $2.94B in one-time rebates to taxpayers to assist with rising costs.
- $20M transferred to the Community Preservation Act Trust Fund and $10M transferred to the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center.
This agreement utilizes up to $510M in ARPA State Fiscal Recovery Funds, leaving approximately $1.75B for future considerations.
Health & Human Services ($1.4B)
- $350M for fiscally strained hospitals.
- $225M for Ch. 257 enhanced payments for human service workers.
- $200M to support COVID-19 public health response efforts.
- $165M for nursing facilities and $30M for rest homes.
- $100M for community health centers.
- $25M to expand low threshold housing options for individuals with substance use disorder.
- $25M for food security infrastructure grants.
- $20M for migrant supports, including housing and wraparound services.
- $20M to reduce gun violence and related trauma.
- $20M for Victims of Crime Act bridge funding.
- $17.5M for reproductive and family planning services.
- $5M to support harm reduction efforts and services to address substance use disorder.
Clean Energy & Environment ($540M)
- $250M to accelerate and support clean energy initiatives, including notable priorities from this session’s climate legislation:
- $50M for the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center to accelerate the transition to and expansion of renewable energy.
- $100M to support the adoption of electric vehicles, as well as the creation and expansion of electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
- $100M for port infrastructure improvements.
- $175M for investments in public land with an emphasis on underrepresented communities.
- $115M for the Clean Water Trust.
Affordable Housing Development ($410M)
- $100M for the CommonWealth Builder Program to create for-sale, below market housing opportunities primarily for first-time homebuyers.
- $100M for the production of workforce housing.
- $100M for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund.
- $50M for the Equitable Developers’ Financing Program.
- $25 million for regional low threshold housing to support homeless or housing unstable individuals 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
Economic Development, Workforce & Education
- $153M for grants to businesses with a particular focus on minority-owned businesses.
- $150M for early education and care stabilization grants.
- $112M (paired with more than $265M in the FY23 GAA) for safety improvements at the MBTA.
- $100M for the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund.
- $75M for investments in broadband infrastructure.
- $57M for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to support families dealing with increased home energy costs.
- $50M to promote the attainment of debt-free higher education for students pursuing careers in high-demand industries, such as health care, education and cybersecurity.