BOSTON, Mass. (WWLP)– The Massachusetts House and Senate have passed a $4 billion bill that designates how federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) surplus funding will be spent. The bill now moves to Governor Baker to be signed.

The money is slated to assist the state’s ongoing economic recovery efforts as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The legislation delivers targeted supports to workers and businesses, and the critical sectors of housing, health care, mental and behavioral health, climate preparedness, education, and workforce development.

“The one-time investments made in this bill address evident needs across all Massachusetts communities
and sectors of the economy, particularly those who were disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19
pandemic,” said House Speaker Ronald J. Mariano (D-Quincy). “The Legislature engaged in a hearing
process before appropriation, and informed by the public’s feedback, this bill will help the Massachusetts
economy strongly recover. I thank chairs Michlewitz and Hunt, members of the House, Senate President
Spilka and our partners in the Senate, as well as all stakeholders and residents for their input throughout
this process.”


“While the Commonwealth’s history of saving for a rainy day allowed us to hold steady during the
immediate shock of the COVID-19 pandemic, the road to full economic recovery will be long,” stated
Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “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 to allow us to go ‘back to better.’ The plan passed today sets forth bold
investments in housing production, public health, small business and workforce development, climate
change mitigation, and many more areas, all while ensuring that the benefits are distributed equitably in
every community across our state. I am particularly proud of the significant investments we have made in
our mental health care system that will begin to address the growing need for access to care across the
Commonwealth. with the goal of transforming the delivery of mental health care in our state—a need felt
in every corner of our Commonwealth. I am grateful for the many contributions from my colleagues in the
Senate, Speaker Mariano and our partners in the House, and the many members of the public who provided
input to shape this first phase of implementation of the American Rescue Plan in Massachusetts.”

The Massachusetts Legislature had voted earlier this year to transfer the state’s $4.8 billion allocation from
ARPA into a separate fund to ensure stakeholder and resident engagement in a public process. Following six public hearings and more than a thousand pieces of testimony received, the House’s and Senate’s spending proposals were unanimously approved by each chamber, resulting in the comprise bill which advances to the Governor’s desk today. This bill utilizes $2.55 billion in ARPA funds and $1.45 billion in FY21 surplus funds.

Notable investments included in the bill are as follows: 

Economic Recovery and Workforce Development  

  • $500 million for premium pay bonuses for essential workers, up to $2,000 per worker 
  • $500 million for the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund, providing necessary relief to business 
  • $100 million for vocational school infrastructure and capacity building needs 
  • $37.5 million for the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund to support organizations working with people displaced from jobs during the pandemic, historically underserved populations, and individuals reentering their communities from the corrections system 
  • $50 million for equitable and affordable broadband access and infrastructure improvements to close the digital divide 
  • $135 million for Mass Cultural Council to support the cultural sector  
  • $75 million for small businesses, including $50 million for direct grants to historically underserved populations and minority-owned, women-owned, and veteran-owned small businesses and $25 million for nascent businesses 
  • $15 million for regional high-demand workforce training at community colleges  
  • $25 million for the expansion of Career Technical Institutes 
  • $24.5 for workforce development and capital assistance grants to the Massachusetts Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs and the Alliance of Massachusetts YMCAs, as well $4.5 million for the YWCAs 
  • $20 million for the resettlement of Afghan evacuees and Haitian evacuees 
  • $15 million to enhance and diversify the cybersecurity sector with partnerships between public higher education institutions and private businesses  
  • $14 million for agricultural economy supports 
  • $10 million for regional tourism councils 

Affordable Housing and Homeownership    

  • $150 million for supportive housing, including $65 million for the chronically homeless population, and $20 million to increase geographic equity and accessibility related to the continuum of long-term care services for veterans not primarily served by the Soldiers’ Homes in Chelsea or Holyoke 
  • $150 million for public housing authorities to maintain and upgrade existing infrastructure  
  • $115 million for the CommonWealth Builder Program to support housing production and promote homeownership among residents of disproportionately impacted communities 
  • $115 million for affordable rental housing production and preservation for the workforce and low- and moderate-income individuals 
  • $65 million for homeownership assistance tools, including down payment assistance, and mortgage interest subsidy supports 

Mental and Behavioral Health, Public Health and Health Care 

  • $400 million in mental and behavioral health supports, including $122 million for workforce loan repayment programs for behavioral health and substance use professionals 
  • $300 million for the Home and Community-Based Services Federal Investment Fund to address workforce needs for those caring for vulnerable populations 
  • $200.1 million to support the state’s local and regional public health infrastructure   
  • $260 million for acute hospitals impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic 
  • $44.8 million for food security infrastructure, including $17 million for the Greater Boston Food Bank for regional food security network improvements across the Commonwealth, $5 million for the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, $2 million for the Massachusetts Food Trust Program to provide loans, grants and technical assistance in a regionally equitable manner to communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, $1.92 million for Project Bread to better connect eligible unenrolled residents with federal nutrition programs statewide and $1 million for the Massachusetts Military Support Foundation, Inc. for the operation of empowerment centers and to support the distribution of food to veterans in need  
  • $30 million to support a robust and diverse home health care and human service workforce through recruitment, retention, and loan forgiveness programming 
  • $50 million for nursing facilities, including $25 million for capital support to increase the quality of patient care and $25 million for workforce initiatives 
  • $25million for youth-at-risk supports and grant programs for community violence prevention and re-entry organizations, focused on communities disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic 
  • $25million for youth summer and school-year jobs 
  • $5 million for Health Care For All to conduct a community-based MassHealth redetermination and vaccination outreach, education, and access campaign targeted in communities disproportionately impacted by the pandemic  
  • $5 million for the Disabled Persons Protection Commission to study and review the interrelationship between service-providing agencies for individuals with disabilities within the Commonwealth and to design and implement a system for an interconnected network that will provide a continuum of care for those individuals  
  • $2 million for unreimbursed COVID-19 costs for Early Intervention providers 
  • $500,000 to establish transportation services for participants in the Massachusetts Veterans’ Treatment Courts  

Climate Preparedness    

  • $100 million for water and sewer infrastructure investments through the Clean Water Trust   
  • $100 million for environmental infrastructure grants, including the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) program  
  • $90 million for marine port infrastructure investments focused on the promotion of offshore wind development 
  • $25 million for Greening the Gateway Cities program to support tree planting 
  • $15 million for parks and recreational assets  
  • $7.5 million for community colleges to help train underserved populations for green jobs 
  • $6.5 million for clean energy retrofitting in affordable housing units 
  • $5 million for the advancement of geothermal technologies  

Education  

  • $100 million to improve indoor air-quality in schools and support healthy learning environments for grants to public school districts with high concentrations of low-income students, English language learners, and communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 
  • $75 million for capital and maintenance projects for higher education  
  • $25 million for the Endowment Incentive Program at the University of Massachusetts, state universities and community colleges  
  • $20 million for special education, including $10 million for workforce development  
  • $10 million for programs focused on recruiting and retaining educators of color 

Accountability and Oversight  

To support communities disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and prioritize historically underserved populations, the bill establishes an equity and accountability review panel for federal funds to track in near real-time the amount and percentage of ARPA funds spent in these communities and awarded to minority-owned and women-owned business enterprises. The bill also takes steps to ensure minority-owned and women-owned business have fair participation on procurements issued under the act.