Massachusetts needs advance planning if it is to capitalize on Biden’s infrastructure plan, economists say


President Biden’s $ 550 billion infrastructure bill to increase spending on highways, ports, broadband, and green initiatives could be a boost for states, but economists warn Massachusetts could waste its potential windfall if it does not line up “shovel-worthy” projects.

“There’s a lot of dollars coming to Massachusetts no matter what. But there will also be competitive grant programs, and the Biden administration will decide how to distribute the dollars. There is no guarantee that Massachusetts will get this money, ”said Tom Ryan, senior advisor on a better city policy.

A report released by ABC and Ryan last week made three key recommendations to state officials looking to capitalize on the next round of federal dollars for congressional approval.

He calls on the state legislature to override a recent veto by Gov. Charlie Baker and require the MBTA to do pre-planning and design work for transit projects, calls on MBTA to reassign $ 50 million from its reserve funds to initiate projects and advance changes in public procurement laws to initiate projects.

But Baker’s administration keeps its cards close to the waistcoat.

“We will be looking at the final legislation,” MassDOT spokeswoman Jacque Goddard said in a statement to the Herald.

It is also a chance for Massachusetts to profit and develop breathtaking projects.

“This is probably the greatest chance for an east-west rail ever,” said Senator Eric Lesser, D-Longmeadow, who first pioneered the idea of ​​an east-west connector.

Lesser, who served under the leadership of former senior adviser to President Barack Obama, David Axelrod, when the 2009 stimulus money was handed out, recited some lessons learned from the previous disbursement.

“One of the things that was absolutely clear was that the federal government was looking for projects that were ready to go that would create jobs,” Lesser said.

But the Biden administration said it plans to spend the $ 550 billion included in the infrastructure plan on a wide range of projects that would propel climate change resilience projects and green initiatives beyond roads and bridges.

Biden on Thursday signed a legally non-binding executive order announcing the goal of making half of all vehicles sold by 2030 zero-emission vehicles which currently only account for 2% of vehicle sales.

Biden’s infrastructure bill includes funding for a nationwide network of electric vehicle charging stations and tax credits for consumers looking to purchase electric vehicles to encourage sales.

These plans could be a boon to Massachusetts, where the goals are to reduce overall emissions by 50% from 1990 figures by 2030 and achieve net zero emissions by 2050. and-invest the tax on gasoline from 2023 to encourage people to move away from gasoline-powered cars.

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