Mass. governments could get $8.1b from fed stimulus

Another $4.7b could boost education, transit, childcare, and welfare

WITH THE PASSAGE of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, a federal COVID recovery bill that passed Congress on Wednesday and that President Joe Biden is expected to sign, Massachusetts can expect to see an influx of federal relief money.

State government officials would not specify how the state will use the money, saying only that the administration will review the package once it is signed and continue to optimize the use of federal resources. At budget hearings, state officials have said they will likely use additional federal money to avoid having to dip into the state’s rainy day fund to balance the budget.

Here’s a look at what the state might get, and where the money would go.

According to spreadsheets released by Senate Democrats, Massachusetts is on track to receive $8.102 billion in fiscal relief for state and local governments.

This includes $4.5 billion for state government, $1.7 billion for metro cities, $1.3 billion for individual counties, and smaller sums to individual towns and state capital projects. The biggest allocations for individual cities are $434 million for Boston, $115 million for Worcester, and $97 million for Springfield. The largest chunk of money distributed on a county level is $312 million for the populous Middlesex County.

Massachusetts would get another $1.83 billion in education funding for K-12 schools. Small pots of this money would have to be spent on specific programs – services for homeless kids, activities to address learning loss, and summer and after school programs – but much of it would be available for general education-related costs. Massachusetts would also get an estimated $825 million for colleges and universities and $27 million for private schools to help them deal with COVID-related costs.

There is also money for childcare, including $197 million in supplemental funding for a program that subsidizes childcare for low-income families, and $315 million for grants to childcare providers to help them stay open and comply with COVID-related rules.

Massachusetts will get around $1 billion for urban transit systems across the state, which could be a boon for the cash-strapped MBTA. T officials on Monday said the transit authority received $827 million when the CARES Act passed, which contained $22 billion in funding for which the agency was eligible. The American Rescue Plan contains $26 billion for which the agency is eligible, so the T could possibly secure even more funding.

The state anticipates getting $176 million for heating assistance grants, $362 million in housing rental assistance grants, at least $50 million in homeowner assistance to help those facing possible foreclosure, and at least $60 million for mental health and substance abuse programs.

The bill would also send another round of $1,400 stimulus checks to adults and children, for couples making less than $150,000 a year. The Congressional Research Service estimates that 3.1 million Massachusetts households would get payments totaling $7.36 billion.

Meet the Author

Shira Schoenberg

Reporter, CommonWealth

About Shira Schoenberg

Shira Schoenberg is a reporter at CommonWealth magazine. Shira previously worked for more than seven years at the Springfield Republican/MassLive.com where she covered state politics and elections, covering topics as diverse as the launch of the legal marijuana industry, problems with the state's foster care system and the elections of U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Gov. Charlie Baker. Shira won the Massachusetts Bar Association's 2018 award for Excellence in Legal Journalism and has had several stories win awards from the New England Newspaper and Press Association. Shira covered the 2012 New Hampshire presidential primary for the Boston Globe. Before that, she worked for the Concord (N.H.) Monitor, where she wrote about state government, City Hall and Barack Obama's 2008 New Hampshire primary campaign. Shira holds a master's degree from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.

About Shira Schoenberg

Shira Schoenberg is a reporter at CommonWealth magazine. Shira previously worked for more than seven years at the Springfield Republican/MassLive.com where she covered state politics and elections, covering topics as diverse as the launch of the legal marijuana industry, problems with the state's foster care system and the elections of U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Gov. Charlie Baker. Shira won the Massachusetts Bar Association's 2018 award for Excellence in Legal Journalism and has had several stories win awards from the New England Newspaper and Press Association. Shira covered the 2012 New Hampshire presidential primary for the Boston Globe. Before that, she worked for the Concord (N.H.) Monitor, where she wrote about state government, City Hall and Barack Obama's 2008 New Hampshire primary campaign. Shira holds a master's degree from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.

Massachusetts residents would also benefit from enhanced unemployment benefits, an expanded child tax credit, and expanded food assistance programs.

While the amount is difficult to quantify at this point, Massachusetts businesses and restaurants will be able to take advantage of new and continued business loan programs.

Additional money will likely be available for public health-related purposes, such as paying for COVID testing or vaccine distribution.