BOSTON (WWLP) – The state legislature went on break for the holidays before finalizing a spending plan worth more than 4 billion dollars. 22News found out what lawmakers in western Massachusetts are doing to make sure their communities see a good chunk of that money.

This is a debate that we’ve been covering for months now – and the reason that it’s not settled yet – is because every lawmaker here at the statehouse has a different idea about how 3.8 billion dollars should be spent. The House and Senate have both passed their own bills that would spend money from the American Rescue Plan, but where the funding debate has come to a grinding halt is over local spending projects.

Western Massachusetts lawmakers told 22News that their communities often get shut out of these major funding decisions – and they’re making sure that doesn’t happen this time around.

“It needs to get done, you know the small businesses, workforce development, mental health, I mean so many of these issues need critical funding and they need it now,” said Senator John Velis

Lawmakers plan to come back to the statehouse over the next few weeks to finalize some of these major spending decisions.

“Some people say we are going on break, but we will still have hearings, we’re still working on behalf of our constituents,” said Representative Carlos Gonzalez.

A majority of the legislature is still working remotely. Statehouse leaders say they will continue to allow lawmakers to cast their votes virtually.

Things here at the statehouse are expected to change in the coming weeks.
Staff members have been asked to be available to work in person again starting on December 13th.