Massachusetts House-Senate committee pushes $1.7 billion borrowing bill

BOSTON – A House-Senate committee on Monday approved a $1.7 billion borrowing bill, dramatically raising the bottom line on legislation sought by Gov. Deval Patrick and padding the legislation with spending authorizations for trees, cranberry bog acquisitions and money to purchase coastal property.

The Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture, chaired by Sen. Marc Pacheco and Rep. Anne Gobi, added nearly $800 million to the $911 million plan submitted by Gov. Patrick.

“The authorization that came in we thought was far short of what we needed for the environmental needs of the Commonwealth,” Pacheco told the News Service.

At Patrick’s request, the House and Senate this session have been advancing through the branches a series of big-ticket long-term borrowing bills that administration officials say are needed to keep capital spending and public works projects on track. While credit rating agencies have raised the state’s debt burden as a concern, administration officials say the proposed borrowing is within affordability limits.

The committee also favorably reported a bill (S 2028) filed by Pacheco that requires the administration to develop a climate change adaptation plan, listing the state’s vulnerabilities and establishing a voluntary program where property owners could sell their repeatedly damaged coastal property to the state.    (FULL ARTICLE)

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