Baker weighing $4B spending bill sent to him by lawmakers

December 5, 2021 GMT

BOSTON (AP) — Gov. Charlie Baker is weighing a $4 billion spending bill shipped to his desk this week by Massachusetts state lawmakers.

The bill directs money from the state’s portion of the American Rescue Plan Act and Fiscal Year 2021 surplus funds to help with the state’s ongoing economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Supporters of the legislation says it targets investments in communities disproportionately harmed by the pandemic.

The bill also helps workers and businesses while also spending on areas like housing, health care, mental and behavioral health, climate preparedness, education and workforce development, according to lawmakers.

“The road to full economic recovery will be long,” Senate President Karen Spilka, a Democrat, said in a written statement. “Rather than going ‘back to normal’ — to an inequitable status quo — the Senate was intentional in using both our American Rescue Plan and Fiscal Year 2021 surplus funds for transformational change.’”

Baker, a Republican, has been pressing the Democratic-controlled House and Senate for months to send him legislation to begin putting some of the federal rescue plan dollars to work immediately.

Earlier this year, lawmakers opted to transfer the state’s $4.8 billion allocation into a separate fund. The Legislations then held a series of public hearings before deciding how best to spend the billions.

The bill is now on Baker’s desk.