Special to the Journal
Gov. Charlie Baker and his administration released its Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) Capital Investment Plan on June 17.
The spending blueprint maintains existing investments and enables the Administration to continue working with stakeholders across the Commonwealth to support ongoing capital projects. The plan will ensure Massachusetts is well-positioned for short, medium and long-term COVID-19 response and recovery efforts.
The capital plan also provides future flexibility by holding on pursuing new programs or funding sources due to the COVID-19 public health crisis and the related uncertainty. This purposeful investment strategy will also afford the Administration the flexibility to revisit the capital plan as the full economic and fiscal impacts of the public health and economic crisis become clear.
The FY21 plan provides capital investments in all regions throughout Massachusetts in critical areas such as transportation, housing, support for cities and towns, health and human services, higher education, and public safety. The plan also continues the administration’s commitment to integrating climate change preparedness into its capital program and it considers the environmental impact and resiliency of all investments.
“During the unprecedented COVID-19 public health crisis and the resulting economic uncertainty, our administration is sustaining support for existing projects and investments while maintaining flexibility in our capital program,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “This responsible strategy will allow us to maximize response and recovery efforts, and continue working towards key priorities in transportation, housing, health and human services, and climate change.”
The $2.46 billion capital plan is fiscally responsible and demonstrates careful long-term planning, and is informed by numerous factors including the Debt Affordability Committee.
As with previous plans, the FY21 plan focuses on six major themes: asset stewardship, supporting local communities, economic opportunity, value optimization, customer orientation, and climate resiliency.
These six priorities continue to be important in the era of COVID-19 amid the response to the public health crisis. By maintaining parks and green spaces, increasing access to broadband internet, promoting economic opportunity and job creation, and investing in health and human services infrastructure, the Commonwealth is continuing to provide resources and accommodations that ensure the health and safety of the people of Massachusetts.
Responsible Asset Stewardship
Since taking office, the Baker-Polito Administration has prioritized the maintenance of the Commonwealth’s existing assets and the prudent investment of capital funds, investing billions to upgrade and modernize existing infrastructure. From road and bridge maintenance to the renovation of aging court facilities to the repair of dams and seawalls, investing in maintenance allows the state to tackle infrastructure repairs in accordance with best practices, system-wide prioritization, and a comprehensive plan before they become costly emergencies.
The plan funds:
•More than $3.7 billion in investments in the Commonwealth’s transportation infrastructure
•Six major higher education projects authorized through the DCAMM higher education capital plan in FY19
•$95 million to support maintenance and improvements at local housing authorities
•The new, state-of-the-art long-term care facility for veterans at the Soldiers’ Home in Chelsea
Supporting Local Communities
The Baker-Polito Administration continues its strong partnerships with the Commonwealth’s cities and towns through the capital program. More than 20 programs funded in the plan provide grants to municipalities to support important local infrastructure including roads and bridges, parks, economic development initiatives, and environmental improvements. The FY21 plan continues funding for the Body Armor Replacement program, which provides a state match to federal funding and helping cities and towns purchase bulletproof vests for police officers at no cost to the community.
The plan also funds:
•$200 million in Chapter 90 funding for local road and bridge repairs
•$10 million for the Municipal Small Bridge Program
•$10 million for the Complete Streets Program
•$3 million in Community Compact information technology grants
•$2 million for the Municipal ADA grant program, which enables cities and towns to improve accessibility to municipal facilities for people with disabilities
Opportunities for All
The plan provides critical investments that help encourage economic growth across Massachusetts, including:
•$100 million for the MassWorks program, which funds local infrastructure improvements that pave the way for major economic development projects
•$40 million for the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center capital program
•$11.3 million for the final phase of a major harbor dredging project in New Bedford
•$9.7 million for the Broadband Last Mile infrastructure program, for Western Massachusetts towns that lack residential broadband service
Through capital investments in MBTA infrastructure, affordable housing, recreational trails, public parks, rinks and playgrounds, the Baker-Polito Administration has worked to prioritize projects that provide direct, tangible value to people across Massachusetts. The Commonwealth also continues to make significant technology investments to improve the customer experience at various agencies such as the Registry of Motor Vehicles, where technology improvements are helping optimize appointment-based operations.
The plan funds:
•$42.5 million for infrastructure transformation and modernization, in order to transform and improve IT networks and better deliver government services
•$27.6 million to improve and maintain Department of Conservation and Recreation facilities
•$6.7 million to continue implementing a new technology platform at the Registry of Motor Vehicles, improving customer service for residents and businesses across Massachusetts
The FY21 plan supports construction and maintenance across various infrastructure, grants and programs that impact every municipality. Throughout all of these initiatives, the Administration remains committed to investing strategically and sustainably, using data, collaboration, leverage from additional funding resources, and planning to provide a holistic approach to solving problems and preparing for the future in partnership with cities and towns.
The plan funds:
•$16.3 million for the Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Initiative, a matching federal grant program that supports research centers around emerging manufacturing technology
•$15 million in Workforce Skills Capital Grants, awarded to educational institutions that demonstrate partnerships with local businesses and align their curriculum with industry demand
•$1 million for the Massachusetts Food Trust program, which leverages private funding to expand healthy food access in underserved communities
Preparing for a
The Baker-Polito Administration is committed to carefully addressing climate change mitigation, adaptation, and resiliency throughout its capital planning program. The FY21 plan makes considerable investments in Commonwealth-owned assets to ensure they are more resilient to climate change. As our local cities and towns are on the front lines in the fight against climate change, the Administration is continuing to take a communities-first approach. The capital plan continues to make state-owned facilities more efficient by supporting energy projects at hospitals, public colleges and universities, public safety facilities, and office buildings. These investments will help to put the state’s assets on a path to meet the Governor’s newly announced goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.
The plan funds:
•$12 million for the repair of Inland Dams and Seawalls
•$11 million for grants to cities and towns to help plan for climate change resiliency and implement priority projects through the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) program
•$5 million for sustainability and resiliency improvements in public housing
•$3.3 million for the Greening the Gateway Cities tree-planting program
To view the full FY21 Capital Investment Plan, visit: www.mass.gov/capital.