Capital Investment Plan

The Commonwealth’s five-year capital investment plan is updated annually after the operating budget has been released.  Under Governor Patrick’s leadership, the Executive Office for Administration and Finance now develops a five-year Capital Investment Plan in conjunction with an annual debt affordability analysis to help ensure Massachusetts continues to borrow responsibly. 

The FY 2012-2016 Capital Investment Plan builds on the Patrick-Murray Administration's unprecedented efforts to stimulate job creation and support long-term economic growth by calling for record level investments in the Commonwealth’s higher education, transportation, economic development, housing and other infrastructure and assets to help put thousands of citizens back to work. 

The current FY 2012-2016 plan implements the vision and priorities established in each of the Patrick-Murray Administration’s first four plans.  In large part, the investments included in FY 2012-2016 plan continue projects launched in prior years or commence projects anticipated by the prior years’ five-year plans.

As with the prior capital plans, the Administration engaged in a diligent, fiscally responsible, and comprehensive process for developing this five-year capital investment proposal.  One common challenge each year is that demand for capital improvements far exceeds affordable funding capacity.  The inevitable consequence is that many worthy projects will not receive funding.

By all accounts, the Massachusetts economy is recovering faster and stronger than most other states, as reflected in the recent bond rating upgrade to AA+ by Standard & Poor’s.  In September, Standard and Poor’s (S&P) upgraded the credit rating for Massachusetts to AA+ from AA, signaling a strong vote of confidence in the management of the state’s fiscal affairs.  The state presently has ratings of Aa1 from Moody’s and AA+ from Fitch.  Taken together, this set of ratings gives Massachusetts its highest credit standing in history.  Nevertheless, this year’s capital plan is constrained by the fact that the vast majority of the capital budget is committed to ongoing projects, which reduces our ability to introduce new or discretionary spending.

In order to establish the total amount of the bond-funded capital program within an affordable level, the Administration conducted a rigorous review of the Commonwealth’s debt capacity within its debt affordability policy.  The debt affordability analysis underlying the FY 2012-2016 capital investment plan can be found at

Highlights of the FY 2012 Capital Investment Plan

The plan continues the Administration’s efforts to create an affordable, accessible public higher education system, committing more than $1.2 B to higher education infrastructure projects.  The commitment includes: increasing state spending for higher education in FY 2012 to a level over 500% from FY 2007 when Governor Patrick took office; funding construction projects at every University of Massachusetts campus to improve higher education and create hundreds of construction jobs; and providing more than $100 M in funding during each of the five years for state university and community colleges.

The FY 2012-2016 plan also makes strategic investments in the Commonwealth’s transportation network to create thousands of new jobs while improving the environment for economic growth in the future.  Transportation investments include: $20 M for the Green Line extension project; $86 M for federally-assisted statewide road and bridge repair projects, providing a state match of $308 M in federal funds; $8.3 M to continue the planning and permitting phase of the South Coast Rail project which will extend the MBTA’s commuter rail service to Fall River and New Bedford; and $18 M for improvements to parkways managed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation.  Other highlights include:

The full five-year Capital Investment Plan can be found at  The charts below show the plan’s investments by major investment categories for each of the five fiscal years covered by the plan, including FY 2013, funded only from state bond proceeds or “bond cap” and funded from all anticipated sources of capital funding. 

FY 2012-2016 Capital Investment Plan Total Bond Cap (in $thousands)
  FY 2012 FY 2013 FY 2014 FY 2015 FY 2016 5-Year Total % of 5-Year Total
Community Investments 275,339 256,706 273,576 266,038 264,926 1,336,585 13%
Corrections 28,456 48,323 74,450 80,900 88,000 320,129 3%
Courts 31,513 44,774 66,500 114,300 90,550 347,637 3%
Economic Development 120,630 128,810 134,340 138,500 138,500 660,780 7%
Energy and Environment 138,005 125,851 102,924 92,819 92,600 552,198 5%
Health and Human Services 99,926 60,284 63,473 65,278 68,345 357,305 4%
Higher Education 205,911 208,400 255,300 275,500 286,100 1,231,211 12%
Housing 168,500 169,500 172,500 177,500 177,500 865,500 9%
Information Technology 125,034 88,507 77,963 80,123 83,748 455,375 4%
Public Safety 21,078 24,431 40,500 42,200 49,100 177,310 2%
State Office Buildings 112,599 70,950 65,950 47,150 52,000 348,649 3%
Transportation 571,174 648,464 672,524 744,693 858,631 3,495,486 34%
Total Bond Cap 1,898,165 1,875,000 2,000,000 2,125,000 2,250,000 10,148,165  


FY 2012-2016 Capital Investment Plan All Sources of Funding (in $thousands)
  FY 2012 FY 2013 FY 2014 FY 2015 FY 2016 5-Year Total % of 5-Year Total
Community Investments 313,339 292,706 309,576 302,038 300,926 1,518,585 9%
Corrections 28,456 48,323 74,450 80,900 88,000 320,129 2%
Courts 31,513 44,774 78,574 122,974 99,224 377,058 2%
Economic Development 248,218 189,103 184,340 188,500 188,500 998,662 6%
Energy and Environment 203,774 190,936 180,674 195,569 195,350 966,302 6%
Health and Human Services 144,999 132,385 136,162 130,559 106,315 650,421 4%
Higher Education 280,127 240,150 294,782 290,500 296,100 1,401,659 8%
Housing 240,716 169,500 172,500 177,500 177,500 937,716 5%
Information Technology 125,034 100,000 100,000 100,000 100,000 525,034 3%
Public Safety 39,275 38,730 52,359 46,163 49,100 225,627 1%
State Office Buildings 112,599 70,950 65,950 47,150 52,000 48,649 2%
Transportation 1,610,243 1,824,328 1,913,809 1,842,873 1,890,406 9,081,658 52%
Total All Sources 3,378,293 3,341,885 3,563,176 3,524,725 3,543,420 17,351,499  

Many of the projects funded in FY 2012 are multi-year projects with costs that will be incurred in subsequent fiscal years; these projected future costs have been taken into account in making investment category reservations for future years.  Projects will evolve and change, and the Executive Office for Administration and Finance (ANF) intends to adjust the capital plan during the fiscal year as circumstances dictate, and also undertake a formal reassessment of capital investment needs to develop an annual update to the five-year capital plan.  The Administration plans to update and publish a new five-year capital investment plan with specific projects identified in FY 2013 around the beginning of the fiscal year.

Affordability and Fiscal Responsibility

The Commonwealth’s capital budget is separate and distinct from the annual operating budget.  The capital budget is funded mainly by borrowing through the issuance of bonds.  Other sources of funding for the capital budget include federal funds, primarily to reimburse transportation infrastructure improvements; from FY 2009 through FY 2012 the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) provided federal funds which were targeted to specific capital purposes; and other sources of funding available to finance certain capital investment projects. 


Because the capital program is funded primarily through bond proceeds, the total size of the capital program is determined primarily by the amount of debt the Commonwealth can afford to issue.  Annually, ANF has established what is known as the “bond cap” as an administrative guideline for annual bond issuance in support of the capital program.  For the fifth consecutive year, the Patrick-Murray Administration engaged in a rigorous analysis of the state’s outstanding debt to determine the affordable level of bond issuance.  A complete description of the Administration’s debt affordability analysis and policy can be found at

For purposes of its analysis of existing payment obligations, ANF takes into account both debt service on general obligation bonds and debt service on certain special obligations, contract assistance obligations and certain capital lease payments.  Although the accelerated bridge program is being carried out in addition to the regular capital program in order to achieve savings from avoided cost inflation and deferred maintenance and to achieve the other objectives of the program, the debt service resulting from the bridge program is also taken into account within the 8% limit under the debt affordability analysis. 

The Administration takes a conservative approach to projecting future budgeted revenues, basing its growth estimate on the lesser of 3% or the actual compound annual growth rate of the Commonwealth’s revenues over the last 10 years, which included both economic booms and downturns.  ANF models future debt issuance using fiscally conservative assumptions about interest rates, maturities, dates of issuance and market conditions.

Based on this analytic approach, the Commonwealth will have the capacity to accommodate steady increases in the bond cap over the next four years-albeit at lower base levels than planned prior to the recession-while maintaining the percentage of the Commonwealth’s budgeted revenues needed to pay debt service during that period comfortably below 8%. 

The Patrick-Murray Administration intends to limit the total amount of virtually all future bond-funded capital projects to the bond cap.  However, there are certain, limited circumstances in which the Administration plans to undertake borrowing outside the bond cap when there is a sound policy justification for doing so.  For example, there are certain projects for which a dedicated stream of new, project-related revenues can be identified to support debt service costs related to those projects. 

The debt affordability analysis methodology is based on the Commonwealth’s current available financing resources and mechanisms.  Changes in financing structures and resources in the future may impact how the Administration examines the administrative bond cap and the state’s capacity for additional borrowing.  The Administration plans to revisit the debt capacity and affordability analysis every year, revising its estimates for future years by taking into account fluctuations in interest rates, budgeted revenues, and other changes impacting the Commonwealth’s debt capacity.  In addition, the Administration will annually assess the appropriateness of the methodology and constraints for establishing the bond cap described above.  The complete Debt Affordability Analysis can be found online at

Impact of Capital Budget on the Operating Budget

Each year, as part of the annual development of the capital investment plan, ANF evaluates the operating budget impacts for all requested projects.  It is necessary for agencies to prepare long term spending plans that consider the potential increased costs or savings of new facilities, property, and information technology programs. 

Every state government capital spending request must show the incremental on-going annual operating costs/savings that are expected to be incurred upon completion of the project.  Much of the information for facility projects is based on data and operation cost profiles provided by Whitestone Research in "The Whitestone Facility Operations Cost Reference 2009-2010." ANF will not consider any request for the five-year spending plan without this information. 

Examples of questions in this process include:

When agencies are preparing their annual budget requests during ANF’s spending plan process they are asked to ensure that the additional operational costs associated with capital projects are reflected in their projected funding requirements.