Representative Steven Howitt supports $5.2 billion bond bill to maintain state and municipal infrastructure
Boston – State Representative Steven Howitt, R-Seekonk, recently voted to support a $5.2 billion bond bill to assist with the maintenance and upkeep of state and municipal government facilities.
House Bill 5065, An Act financing the general governmental infrastructure of the Commonwealth, was enacted by the House of Representatives on a vote of 153-0 on July 26. The bill represents a compromise negotiated by a six-member conference committee that worked to reconcile the differences between earlier House and Senate versions of the bill.
The bond bill contains funding for several of Representative Howitt’s local priorities, including: $1,000,000 for the engineering, design, and construction of municipal sewer expansion in Norton, $500,000 for costs associated with the purchase of a storage facility for Seekonk’s Public Works Department, and $750,000 for improvements to the Medeiros Farm recreational facilities in Swansea. While this is good news for the district, he noted that these projects are being paid for with bond money, and must first be signed into law by Governor Charlie Baker and worked under the state’s bond cap before the funding can be released, a process that could take several years.
Representative Howitt noted that the bond bill authorizes $675 million for capital needs at the state’s court facilities; $530 million for the construction, modernization and demolition of public safety and security facilities; $750 million for repairs, renovations and improvements to Massachusetts public higher education campus facilities and grounds; and $50 million for the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund.
House Bill 5065 also imposes a five-year moratorium on the construction of new correctional facilities. The bill explicitly prohibits any expansion of the number of beds at an existing or dormant correctional facility unless they are needed to accommodate a transfer of incarcerated individuals due to the temporary or permanent closure of another correctional facility.
The bill also includes:
• $204 million for the capital needs of public and non-profit entities that serve a public purpose;
• $30 million for grants to assist municipal and regional government entities with information technology upgrades to promote both in-person and remote participation in public meetings
• $375,000 for the Department of Children and Families for the creation of indoor and outdoor play areas or playgrounds at area offices;
• $16 million for grants administered by the Massachusetts Technology Development Corporation for competitive grants to Massachusetts-based companies commercializing technologies developed with the assistance of a Small Business Innovation Research or Small Business Technology Transfer from a federal agency;
• $60 million for grants and loans for the Housing Stabilization and Investment Trust Fund;
• $25 million for a local capital projects grant program to support and encourage implementation of the Housing Choice designation for communities that have demonstrated housing production and the adoption of best housing practices;
• $100 million for the purchase and installation of equipment to establish, upgrade and expand career technical education and training programs that are aligned to regional economic and workforce development priorities;
• $84 million for the Water Pollution Abatement Trust;
• $400 million for the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance to decarbonize and minimize the environmental impacts of state-owned facilities by reducing or eliminating emissions from the on-site use of fossil fuels;
• $51 million for a food security program, including grants to support the immediate and projected infrastructure needs of farms, retailers, fisheries, food system business, and food distribution channels;
• $82.5 million for the Executive Office of Technology Services and Security;
• $74.75 million for the virtual and physical security infrastructure of state Lottery commission facilities;
• $60 million for medical, security, safety and communications equipment and vehicles for the Department of Correction and other agencies within the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security; and
• $100 million for the replacement of State Police cruisers and accompanying equipment
House Bill 5065 now moves to Governor Baker’s desk for his review.
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