Baker Pushes for $2.9 Billion in COVID Relief

Gov. Charlie Baker

HYANNIS – Governor Charlie Baker recently testified before the state Senate and House of Representatives voicing his support for his bill dedicating $2.9 billion in federal funding through the American Rescue Plan Act to jumpstart the state’s economy.

The money would also support residents in the Commonwealth hit hardest by COVID-19, including lower-wage workers and communities of color.

“As you know, the COVID-19 pandemic has touched every resident of the Commonwealth. But we know that certain communities, especially communities of color, disproportionately felt the impact of the virus.”

“COVID also exacerbated long standing issues facing these communities —like housing insecurity. As we look to invest these direct funds, we have a tremendous opportunity in front of us to address the disparities too many in Massachusetts face.”

The state’s unemployment rate is now below the national average and business-focused recovery efforts underway throughout the region, however Baker said that the Commonwealth should not give up any momentum on the road back to a “new normal.”

Baker said that many town officials are anxious to work with the state government, but some initiatives may take a while to implement and should be started as soon as possible using the federal funding.

“There is a ticking clock on how long we have to spend these resources,” said Baker.

Baker said that the proposal would not utilize all of the available federal aid, leaving more than $2 billion for other priorities in the months or years ahead. 

One of the key priorities of the bill is creating affordable housing for communities of color, who have been historically disproportionately affected by housing affordability in Massachusetts, said Baker, alongside housing for veterans and potential first-time homeowners. 

The meeting, held before the Joint Committee on Ways and Means and the House Committee on Federal Stimulus and Census Oversight, was the first of several joint public hearings on the American Rescue Plan Act funding.

About Grady Culhane

Grady Culhane is a Cape Cod native from Eastham. He studied media communications at Cape Cod Community College and joined the News Center in 2019.
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