Senate advances plan to send federal aid to new fund

Boston Statehouse

BOSTON (SHNS) – The Senate on Monday joined the House in passing a bill to steer more than $5 billion into a fund from which lawmakers could make investment decisions moving forward, the latest step in a disagreement with Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration over who decides how the money should be spent.

The Senate proposal (S 2466), which cleared that branch Monday morning, appears to back out the $109 million in pledged aid that Baker last week delivered to the previously shortchanged communities of Chelsea, Randolph, Everett and Methuen. The House bill (H 3827) had called for the transfer of $5,286,067,526.40 to a COVID-19 Response Fund. The Senate bill transfers $5,176,987,249 to a Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund.

A Baker spokeswoman said last week that the $5.3 billion in aid “as authorized by the federal government does not require legislative appropriation and the Administration is ready to work with municipal, non-profit, private sector and legislative partners to invest these funds quickly.”

During the pandemic and ongoing state of emergency, Baker has unilaterally made numerous decisions about how federal aid is doled out, but lawmakers appear intent on playing a larger role in future spending decisions. With both branches still in session, it appears they may try to get the bill to Baker’s desk on Monday.

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