Rep. Gordon, Legislature Pass Compromise Spending Bill for COVID-19 Needs and Recovery $3.82B Package includes Investments in Bedford

~ Submitted on behalf of Rep. Ken Gordon (D-Bedford)

State Rep. Ken Gordon (D-Bedford) Courtesy image

The Massachusetts Legislature approved a spending bill on Thursday that leverages American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) surplus funds to facilitate COVID-19 recovery efforts through one-time investments in housing, environment, and climate mitigation, economic development, workforce, health and human services, and education. The bill includes targeted investments introduced by Representative Ken Gordon for Bedford:

  • $100,000 for the Bedford Food Bank;
  • $75,000 for the Bedford Chamber of Commerce to support local small business;
  • $75,000 to for the implementation of Bedford’s Racial Equity Municipal Action Plan (REMAP);
  • $1 million for Boston Medflight, based at Hanscom Field;

“This is great news for Bedford,” said Rep. Ken Gordon. “This spending plan will give our community the resources that it needs to recover from the impacts of this pandemic and be resilient in the face of the challenges to come. I am especially proud of the investments that support our essential workers who work tirelessly, and at their own risk, to keep us healthy and safe.”

In addition to local funding, the spending package will allocate $500 million toward payments, in an amount ranging from $500 to $2,000, for lower-income essential workers who stayed on the job in-person during the COVID-19 state of emergency. The bill also includes $500 million to replenish the Unemployment Trust Fund which will offset businesses’ contributions for unemployment programs and $200 million in tax relief for small businesses that paid personal income taxes on state or federal relief awards during the pandemic.

The spending plan will also support healthcare and human services, including $400 million to enhance and expand access to mental and behavioral health supports and services and community-based primary care, a $300 million reserve to enhance, expand and strengthen Medicaid home and community-based services, $260 million to support financially strained hospitals in communities hit hard by COVID-19, and more than $200 million for local and regional public health systems. Other highlights from the bill include:

  • $530 million for affordable housing initiatives;
  • $200 million for environmental infrastructure grants and sewer projects;
  • $60 million for grants to support small businesses negatively impacted by the pandemic, with $35 million of it reserved for minority-owned, women-owned, and veteran-owned businesses;
  • $78 million to address food insecurity;
  • $100 million for grants to public school districts with high concentrations of low-income students, English language learners, and communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19;
  • $125 million to the Massachusetts Cultural Council for grants supporting cultural events, education or performances highlighting underrepresented voices;

The bill was enacted by both chambers on Friday and sent to Governor Baker who has 10 days to sign the bill.

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