The Legislature Takes Action on ARPA and Surplus Funds

Over the past three weeks, the House and Senate have each passed legislation allocating over $3.8 billion in ARPA/FY21 Surplus funds. Yesterday the two chambers appointed a conference committee (House: Representatives Michlewitz, Hunt, and Smola and Senate: Senators Rodrigues, Friedman, and O’Connor) who will be tasked with settling the differences between the two bills.

We expect the conference committee to try to quickly work out the differences between both bills. Legislators are trying to send a final bill to the Governor before the Chambers take their holiday recess on November 17th.

You can view the final House bill (H.3243) here and the final Senate bill (S.2580) here. See below for a recap of all the action that has taken place over the past three weeks.

House Recap:

On October 25th, the House Ways and Means Committee released its $3.65B ARPA spending proposal. The legislation proposed to invest significantly in housing, hospitals, schools, and workforce development. The $3.65 billion draws on about 50% of the almost $5 billion in ARPA funds and about $1.15 billion in surplus FY21 funds.

Over the next two days, more than 1130 amendments were filed by Representatives to increase existing spending allocations, add in local earmarks, and propose policy/language changes to the bill.

On October 29th, the House unanimously passed its proposal to spend $3.82B in ARPA and FY21 surplus funds. Highlights for workforce and economic development included:

  • $500M for premium pay bonuses for essential workers, specifically low to mid-income workers who worked in person throughout the state of emergency.
  • $150M for WCTF (to support individuals who need training and/or additional education to re-engage with the workforce mentions LTE, ESOL, adult basic ed, and capacity for the workforce system)
  • $100M for capital and equipment needs of vocational schools and chapter 74 programs
  • $40M for YouthWorks to support summer and school-year jobs for young people from economically disadvantaged communities
  • $15M for Reentry
  • $500 million into the state’s unemployment insurance trust fund (this addresses some of the increased costs employers were due experience due to covid related layoffs)
  • $25M for small businesses, and $25M for minority-owned businesses
  • $5M for the Inspector General’s office to create a public database to ensure that funding is spent in communities that have been disproportionately impacted. communities, and track the number of contracts awarded to minority-owned entities
  • $50M to closing the digital divide in low-income areas
  • $12M to assist in the resettlement of Afghan refugees in the Commonwealth
  • $200M worth of tax relief for small businesses that paid personal income taxes on State or Federal relief awards over the last year and a half

Senate Recap:

On November 3rd, the Senate Ways and Means Committee released its $3.67B ARPA spending proposal. The Senate bill had a similar bottom line and strategy as the House, with investments in healthcare, housing, economic and workforce development, and climate change. As the House did, the Senate bill proposed to invest $500 million in premium pay bonuses for frontline workers and $500 million in UI relief for businesses. Two bigger areas of difference between the branches were around funding for local boards of health and behavioral health.

More than 700 amendments were filed by Senators for specific local earmarks, policy recommendations, and changes to language included in the Senate Ways and Means proposal.

On November 10th, the Senate unanimously passed its proposal to spend $3.82B in ARPA and FY21 surplus funds. Highlights for workforce and economic development included:

  • $75M for WCTF
  • $25M for CTI
  • $30M for regional workforce initiatives coordinated through community colleges
  • $100M for capital and equipment needs of vocational schools and chapter 74 programs
  • $75M for broadband accessibility and affordability initiatives
  • $400M for a mental and behavioral health reserve, including more than $100M for a loan repayment assistance program across the continuum of care
  • $55M for human service workforce initiatives, including recruitment, retention, and loan forgiveness programs
  • $50M for nursing facilities supports, including capital grants to improve quality of patient care and workforce initiatives  

While the House included more funding for workforce training, both proposals would commit at least $100M in new workforce training funds. MWA thanks the House and Senate for their strong support of workforce development in both of their spending bills. Questions? Reach out to Tonja Mettlach at tmetlach@massworkforce.com anytime.

Scroll to Top