By Bob Katzen
The House 155-4, Senate 39-0, approved a $1 billion-plus information technology bond titled “An Act Financing the General Governmental Infrastructure of the Commonwealth.” The state borrows the funds to finance the projects in the package.
“We are pleased to have worked closely with the Legislature to sign this bill into law and continue investing in information technology improvements, public safety upgrades and food security across the commonwealth,” said Gov. Baker. “We are continuing to support critical capital investments that modernize our technology infrastructure and allow us to deliver effective and reliable government services for the people of Massachusetts during the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic.”
“The Legislature is using a new tactic, which is to borrow money in hopes the public doesn’t catch on,” said Paul Craney, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance. “If this package was funded through tax hikes, there would have been a more robust debate for how to pay for it. Many of the election year pet project earmarks would have been left out. Unfortunately, lawmakers know the public doesn’t pay attention to state debt, so they were able to add more debt to the most indebted state in the country.”
Hundreds of provisions in the bill include massive state projects including $165 million for state telecommunications and data-security-related equipment; $140 million for the purchase and implementation of information technology, telecommunications and data-security-related items for various state agencies; $1.25 million for information technology upgrades for the House of Representatives; $40 million to replace State Police cruisers; and $20 million for policy body cameras.
The package also includes hundreds of local projects successfully sought by individual legislators for their districts including $500,000 for New Bedford’s Buttonwood Park Zoological Society’s infrastructure improvements for the animal ambassador and nature connection education center projects; $61,200 to update the town hall conference room’s streaming technology for the local cable services in Stoughton; $15,000 for Medfield for the implementation of an electronic payroll program; and $1 million for Everett for electronic learning devices for all Everett students and virtual professional development, training and remote learning support for their teachers.