Boston – The Massachusetts Senate Republican Caucus is calling on Governor Deval Patrick to change his course and release the remaining half of the $300 million in Chapter 90 bond funding unanimously approved by the Legislature for critical infrastructure maintenance and repair funding for cities and towns.
Patrick recently signed the legislation appropriating the Chapter 90 money, but has thus far refused to release half of it. In a letter hand-delivered to the Governor’s office on Monday afternoon, the Caucus warned Patrick that “Your conditional release of only half of the funds not only puts our communities in an untenable position of choosing what projects to fund and whether to build half a bridge in the hopes that you will authorize the full amount, but it further delays projects that need to begin if they are to be completed this season.”
The letter was signed by Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester), Assistant Minority Leader Robert Hedlund (R-Weymouth), Minority Whip Richard Ross (R-Wenham) and Senator Michael Knapik (R-Westfield), the Ranking Republican on the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. Last month, Governor Patrick informed municipalities that he would be authorizing the release of only $150 million of the $300 million in Chapter 90 funding approved by the Legislature.
Senate Republicans are asking Patrick to communicate any remaining concerns he has “so that we can address those specific concerns and get this money to municipalities without any further costly delay.”
“Municipal officials have repeatedly heard the message that $300 million is coming to fund critical repairs to roads and bridges, only to now receive half that amount in the middle of the construction season,” noted Senator Tarr. “The Governor filed a bill containing $300 million and the Legislature approved that bill. Now it’s time to honor those terms and move forward on the one funding item everyone has agreed on, and continue debate, discussion and negotiations on the things on which we haven’t agreed.”
“There’s no practical reason our cities and towns should not receive these funds now, which are desperately needed to fix our area roads,” added Senator Hedlund. “The only reason to withhold these funds appears politically motivated and I do not believe cities and towns should suffer from the political games being played on Beacon Hill.”
Based on the Patrick Administration’s own recommendations, the House of Representatives and the Senate unanimously approved $300 million for the Chapter 90 program, an increase of $100 million over last year’s allocation for local road and bridge repairs. Patrick signed the Chapter 90 bill into law onMay 24, and just last week the Legislature finalized an accompanying terms billdictating how the funds will be distributed.
“The release of these funds is extremely important to our cities and towns as the construction season is already underway,” said Senator Knapik. “We must deliver on the full $300 million allocation to help maintain an efficient and functional transportation infrastructure, one that is so critical to the local economy.”
“This funding is crucial for communities across the Commonwealth as construction season has begun and municipalities are addressing their current transportation needs and projects,” added Senator Ross. “Not only will this funding enable cities and towns to maintain the safety and repair of local roads and bridges, it willprovide a necessary economic boost to the construction industry and the Commonwealth’s economy as a whole.”
In their letter, Senate Republicans called on Patrick to fulfill the state’s commitment to assisting cities and towns in meeting their infrastructure needs. “You recognized in The Way Forward: A 21st Century Transportation Plan, that previous commitments to road and bridge funding have led to ‘safer roads, less congestion, and more comfortable commutes for residents of every community in the Commonwealth,’” the Caucus letter notes. “Arbitrarily abandoning that commitment now jeopardizes those gains and will turn today’s cost-efficient repairs into tomorrow’s unnecessary and unduly expensive roadway replacements.”
Please contact the office of Senator Ross with any questions or concerns at (617) 722-1555 or Richard.Ross@masenate.gov.