MA Gov. Baker calls for distributing COVID relief funding – NBC Boston

Governor Charlie Baker presented lawmakers with his $3.5 billion economic development package on Monday, telling a hybrid hearing that COVID-era supply chain constraints, American Rescue Plan Act funding and general construction complexities all blend into a need for quick action.

Joined by Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy and incoming Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Beth Card, Baker cited recent project delays in Kingston, Easthampton and Ayer for assert his point of view.

“If we don’t get those dollars back into the hands of cities and towns across the state now so they can begin the process associated with planning, designing, reimagining, and kick-starting their local economies and their downtowns, we will continue to see empty storefronts and quiet main streets for years to come,” Baker said.

The governor’s bill (H 4270) combines the state’s remaining $2.3 billion in American Rescue Plan Act money with $1.2 billion in state bond authorizations. He would direct dedicated project funding to every municipality in the state, direct $300 million to the Unemployment Trust Fund to address overpayments, and greenlight the sale of the Hynes Convention Center.

The Economic Development and Emerging Technologies Committee has planned to take evidence in person and virtually on Monday. Some committee members, including House Speaker Jerry Parisella, were present in the courtroom. Others, including Senate Speaker Eric Lesser, who tested positive for COVID-19 last week, joined by videoconference.

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