Port improvements, housing development and environmental infrastructure headline a new $1.7 billion midyear spending bill Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker outlined Wednesday, as the Republican eyes more spending in his final months in office.
The new spending outlays were offered as the Baker administration again made a major markup to the state's official tax revenue forecast for the current fiscal year to reflect tax collections that have continued surging far beyond expectations.
Joining Baker at an event in Salem touting the spending bill's focus on offshore wind, Administration and Finance Secretary Michael Heffernan said the administration would revise its forecast for fiscal year 2022 tax collections to $37.666 billion, an increase of about $1.7 billion over the current estimate.
Tax revenues have smashed projections by $4.23 billion over the first 10 months of the fiscal year, coloring decisions about how to allocate the funds with the main options being spending, building reserves and cutting taxes.
Baker's latest pitch to dip into the overflowing pot would direct $310 million to housing development, $235 million to transportation projects, $200 million for Cape Cod water and sewer initiatives and $180 million for economic development efforts. The bill also includes $100 million to build out ports in Salem, New Bedford and Somerset to position those communities to become hubs in the offshore wind industry that has established roots in southeastern Massachusetts and is growing on the East Coast.
"The longer we wait to fund these projects, the longer we wait to break ground, the longer we wait to get going, the higher the costs of these projects will be and the farther back in line we'll be," Baker said in Salem.
It was Baker's first public appearance since canceling events Tuesday after saying he was "not feeling well" but tested negative for COVID-19.