July 13, 2008

To the Honorable Senate and House of Representatives:

Pursuant to Article LVI, as amended by Article XC, Section 3 of the Amendments to the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, I am returning to you for amendment Section 94 of House Bill No. 4900, "An Act Making Appropriations for the Fiscal Year 2009 for the Maintenance of the Departments, Boards, Commissions, Institutions and Certain Activities of the Commonwealth, for Interest, Sinking Fund and Serial Bond Requirements and for Certain Permanent Improvements."

Section 94 transfers $2 million to the District Local Technical Assistance Fund. In general, I support the use of these funds for local planning purposes. However, I prefer the mechanism that I proposed in my budget earlier this year, whereby the Division of Local Services will award competitive grants to municipalities, regional planning agencies and councils of government. I believe that this grant program will more effectively complement other recent efforts by the Legislature and my Administration to encourage regional cooperation and efficiency.

For these reasons, I recommend that Section 94 be amended by striking out the text and inserting in place thereof the following 2 sections:-

SECTION 94. Chapter 10 of the General Laws is hereby amended by inserting after section 69B, inserted by section 7 of the general appropriation act for fiscal year 2009, the following section:-

Section 69C. (a) There shall be established and set up on the books of the commonwealth a separate fund, to be known as the Regional Efficiency Assistance Grants Trust Fund, in this section called the fund. The fund shall consist of monies credited or transferred to the fund from any fund or source pursuant to law.

(b) The deputy commissioner of revenue for local services shall be the trustee of the fund. The deputy commissioner shall expend monies in the fund, without further appropriation but subject to approval of an annual spending plan by the secretary of administration and finance, and in consultation with the department of housing and community development and other relevant agencies, to provide competitive grants to municipalities, regional planning agencies and councils of government, to encourage regional cooperation and efficiency. The deputy commissioner shall adopt regulations, after a public hearing, governing these expenditures.

SECTION 94A. Not less than 10 days after the effective date of this act, the comptroller shall transfer $2,000,000 from the General Fund to the Regional Efficiency Assistance Grants Trust Fund, established in section 69C of chapter 10 of the General Laws.

Respectfully submitted,

Deval L. Patrick

This information provided by the Executive Office of Administration and Finance.