Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Legislature Enacts $1.8 Billion Bond Bill to Strengthen the Commonwealth’s

Information Technology & Physical Infrastructure

Invests in food security, education, public safety accountability

House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo and Senate President Karen E. Spilka joined their colleagues in House and Senate to pass legislation authorizing up to $1.8 billion in spending for the improvement of information technology equipment and other capital projects in Massachusetts.

The legislation also authorizes funding for food security, law enforcement body cameras, and investments in educational technologies in Massachusetts schools.

“Now, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, more than ever, everyone realizes the importance of our information technology infrastructure,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop). “These investments will strengthen the resilience of our state and help provide more equitable access to key services for our residents. I thank Governor Baker, Senate President Spilka, and my colleagues in the Legislature for their work on this important bill.”

“As we adjust to a world transformed by a global pandemic we stand committed and ready to supporting existing programs and finding new ways to invest in underserved and underrepresented populations,” stated Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland).“I am thrilled to see this bill authorizes additional much-needed supports for childcare providers. I am equally proud to see this borrowing bill directs resources to a program aimed at supporting communities of color. I would like to thank all my colleagues, including House Speaker DeLeo and Senator Michael Rodrigues, for their work priorities.”

“House and Senate members made certain that the components of this legislation would have positive wide-ranging impacts for our residents over many key areas. We modernize the state's economic, justice and education systems, harden our cybersecurity capabilities and combat food insecurity with farm and fisheries grants to make food supply channels more robust and connect those in need with food resources,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R - Gloucester).

“This bond bill provides over $1.5 billion in critical funding for library construction, public safety initiatives, food security programs, and technology upgrades throughout state and local government,” said House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading). “These are important investments that will allow Massachusetts to continue to address its infrastructure needs while also responding to the many challenges presented by the COVID-19 global pandemic.”

The capital plan, which includes $794 million for state and local general technology and physical infrastructure, features the following targeted investments.

· $110 million in public safety infrastructure and equipment

· $134 million in statewide economic development grants and reinvestment in disproportionately impacted communities

· $80 million in educational IT and infrastructure grants, including $50 million to assist public schools in facilitating remote learning environments

· $10 million to fund technology investments at community health centers

· $37 million in food security grants

· $25 million in capital improvements for licensed early education and care providers and after school programs to ensure safe reopening during COVID-19

· $30 million in public safety accountability technologies including body cameras and a race and ethnicity data sharing system

The legislation has now been signed into law by Governor Baker.