How to spend billions on coronavirus aid, 2022 gubernatorial race ‘big deal’ excess tax revenue – Boston Herald
Massachusetts Sits on More than $ 9.1 Billion in Combined Federal Aid and Excess Tax Revenue, and Local Expert Says “The Big Issue” of the Governor’s Next Run will be how best to spend the money as the state charts its recovery journey from coronaviruses.
“The question of what to do with the budget surplus and the federal money should be the big issue in the 2022 governor’s race,” UMass Lowell pollster John Cluverius said, adding that it made “sense” that the outgoing Governor Charlie Baker is looking to make quick use of the money.
A battle over how to spend the remaining $ 5.1 billion in unearmarked funds from President Biden’s US bailout is brewing between the Republican governor who intends to spend it “immediately” and the democrat-led legislature, which wants to wait.
Baker has now twice submitted a proposal to spend $ 2.9 billion of ARPA funds investing in housing, economic development, workforce development, health care and addiction, and infrastructure.
Lawmakers rejected a slightly smaller initial version of his plan when they put federal aid dollars in a separate account requiring a public disbursement process.
“Whenever the government talks about process and listening, it means they want to slow something down,” Cluverius said. “I could absolutely see the legislature delaying this until there was potentially a Democratic governor to spend the money.”
“For Baker, to remain inactive would invite political ruin,” Cluverius added.
Baker has yet to say whether he will run for a third term and, with the absence of a clear Democratic frontrunner at the moment, Cluverius said the most likely Democratic strategy could “frustrate him to the point that he won’t. will represent itself more “by taking away control of the purse strings of excess state liquidity.
“Fruster Baker out of office is much more likely at this point in the process than defeating him at the polls,” Cluverius said.
According to data from the state Revenue Department, additional tax revenue estimated at $ 4 billion will also soon be at stake, after collections have been well above baseline for much of the last fiscal year which has been in play. ended June 30.
The legislature has yet to establish a formal plan for disbursing the money, but Baker’s plan for immediate investment has gained traction among some Democrats, including Attorney General Maura Healey, who is widely believed to be considering a candidacy for governor in 2022.
“I agree with the governor’s call for support and release of funds for behavioral health services here in the state, in terms of what we get from the federal government,” Healey said last Thursday at ” a press conference on the Purdue Pharma affair. “We see the need for behavioral health services manifested in so many different ways. It fundamentally affects the life force and direction of so many families in this condition. So we need that.
State Representative Bud Williams of Springfield urged his colleagues last Wednesday to “support this man” in a joint appearance with the Republican governor in his home district. Williams praised Baker’s plan to inject $ 1 billion into access to housing and expand homeownership opportunities that he says will create wealth for historically oppressed communities.
“If we create wealth, we can solve some of our own problems, with the money to fix our communities,” Williams added.