Bill Mobilizing Economic Recovery Signed
New Law Will Help Secure Hundreds of Millions of Dollars in Federal Recovery Funding
"This bill will help us continue our efforts to create jobs, improve our infrastructure and strengthen our long-term economy," said Governor Patrick.
Many provisions under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act include "use it or lose it" deadlines, requiring states to use federal funds quickly or it will be reallocated to other states. To meet these ARRA requirements, task forces comprised of leaders from industry, labor and government developed a set of legislative recommendations for changes to the state's General Laws that are either federally mandated or will help to reap the maximum benefits of the federal act, including compliance with its deadlines. This bill incorporates those recommendations.
"Federal recovery funds are already helping to support a wide range of clean energy, education, health care and other projects that are critical to the Commonwealth's future," said Lieutenant Governor Timothy P. Murray, who led the Municipal Facilities Task Force. "The task forces helped us to prepare Massachusetts for the immediate economic impact as well as long term benefits for our citizens."
The bill signed today makes two needed changes to state law to satisfy eligibility requirements for certain parts of ARRA funding: $186 million in federal clean water and drinking water grants, and $108 million in additional federal unemployment benefits.
The bill also includes several additional provisions intended to facilitate compliance with ARRA's deadlines and the accomplishment of its objectives, including:
- Updating and expediting certain state procurement procedures to maximize the state's ability to comply with ARRA's deadlines and capture all available funding;
- Creating technical assistance and bond guarantee programs to ensure that all businesses can participate in and benefit from ARRA-funded opportunities, including small businesses and minority and women-owned businesses;
- Requiring that 20% of the labor hours on ARRA-funded construction projects costing $1 million or more be performed by apprentices to ensure the creation of jobs with middle-class earning capacity and skills;
- Requiring any entity located in the state that receives ARRA funds to provide information to the state regarding its use of the funds to ensure transparency, accountability and efficiency.
- Requiring employers on all ARRA-funded projects to post notices of employment opportunities on the Commonwealth's central job bank;
- Amending the state's mini-COBRA law for small businesses to provide covered individuals with the same extended period to elect mini-COBRA benefits that ARRA makes available to individuals covered by COBRA; and
- Adopting an additional trigger for unemployment benefits, known as the total unemployment rate ("TUR") trigger, that will provide eligible individuals with an additional 7 weeks of extended unemployment benefits.
- Preparing Massachusetts to maximize federal recovery funds is a critical component of Governor Patrick's Massachusetts Recovery Plan, which combines state, federal and, where possible, private efforts to provide immediate and long-term relief and position the Commonwealth for recovery in the following ways:
- Deliver immediate relief by investing in the road, bridge and rail projects that put people to work today and providing safety net services that sustain people who are especially vulnerable during an economic crisis;
- Build a better tomorrow through education and infrastructure investments that strengthen our economic competitiveness, prepare workers for the jobs of the future, and support clean energy, broadband, and technology projects that cut costs while growing the economy; and
- Reform state government by eliminating the pension and ethics loopholes that discredit the work of government and revitalize the transportation networks that have suffered from decades of neglect and inaction.
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