Chapter 90 bill passes committee with favorable vote

BOSTON – Senator Brian A. Joyce (D-Milton) announced today that H.3324, An Act Providing for the Municipal Road and Bridge Maintenance Needs of the Commonwealth, had passed favorably from the Senate Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets.

“There is tension between spending more money to give life to our economy and create jobs, and our ability to pay back our debt and to reduce burdens on our future generations,” said State Senator Brian A. Joyce. “While the past winter’s severity has increased our need for Chapter 90 funding, it’s important to have perspective on our state’s long-term fiscal situation.”

The Committee supported the $200 million proposed by Governor Patrick and passed the bill largely unchanged except for an amendment to include a price adjustment clause. The clause requires all municipalities to include a price adjustment clause for diesel fuel, gasoline, liquid asphalt, Portland cement concrete and steel in the bid documents of all construction contracts funded using Chapter 90 funds. The Commonwealth has realized savings in the past from similar language, which was included in the transportation bond bill passed in 2008.

During a hearing Monday, the Committee heard from Assistant Secretary of Administration and Finance Scott Jordan and Department of Transportation CFO Arthur Shea on the importance of Chapter 90 funding. Jordan emphasized that the top priority was to get the bill passed as quickly as possible and for the funds to be disbursed. Shea stated that the $45 million increase from the FY11 Chapter 90 bill was not an increase in spending, but simply a reallocation of funding. He also estimated that the $200 million would fund as many as 3200 projects statewide.

Tom Philbin from the Massachusetts Municipalities Association also testified, stating that the MMA was satisfied with the $200 million proposal, and requested the Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets vote favorably on the bill.

The bill is expected to come before the Senate on Thursday.