Baker: Mass. has received $71b in fed aid

Governor says money came from 4 relief programs

THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT has funneled $71 billion to Massachusetts and its residents through four COVID-19 relief programs over the last year, Gov. Charlie Baker said at a legislative oversight hearing on Thursday.

The $71 billion is an astonishing number, far higher than the $46 billion the Legislature appropriated for the state budget during the current fiscal year. It also works out to roughly $10,500 for every person in Massachusetts.

Doug Howgate, executive vice president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, said the state has a website that itemizes most of the federal funding. He said the magnitude of the numbers show the incredible power of the federal government, and how its ability to deploy resources dwarfs what the state can do.

“The order of magnitude is so profound it’s hard to comprehend it,” he said.

Baker, referring to notes, provided a breakdown of the federal spending in response to a question. The big ticket items he cited were $27 billion in for the Paycheck Protection Program to support businesses, $20 billion for unemployment insurance benefits, and $8 billion in individual stimulus checks.

The governor said $2.7 billion went for supplemental payments to health care providers and a total of $1.5 billion for Boston ($121 million), Plymouth County ($96 million), and the MBTA and regional transit authorities.

Another $1.4 billion went for higher educational institutions, emergency assistance to individuals, community health centers, and airports. Approximately $1.3 billion went to schools, including school lunch programs; $814 million to food assistance programs; and $300 million to housing and Head Start programs.

Baker said another $7 billion went to other programs, but he didn’t get to fully explain what he meant because Sen. Jo Comerford of Northampton cut him off to move on to other questions. Before he left the subject, Baker said the $7 billion included a $2.5 billion legislative authorization that went to help balance the fiscal 2020, 2021, and 2022 budgets; provide $900 million to cities and towns; and assist small businesses with $700 million in aid.