Special to the Transcript
House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo joined his colleagues in the House to pass legislation authorizing up to $1.7 billion in spending for the improvement of information tech-nology equipment and related projects in Massachusetts.
The House voted for the IT financing package – which also contains key funding for food security — using its remote voting procedures for the COVID-19 emergency. The bill provides $500,000 for information technology upgrades in Winthrop.
“Now, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, more than ever, everyone realizes the importance of our information technology infrastructure,” House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop) said. “These investments will strengthen the resilience of our state and help provide more equitable ac-cess to key services for our residents. I thank Chairs Michlewitz, Gregoire Cabral, Representative Vincent and my colleagues in the House for their work on this important bill.”
“The IT Bond bill contains numerous and necessary upgrades to services that our constituents rely on each and every day and today,” said Representative Aaron Michlewitz (D-Boston), Co-Chair of the Joint Committee on Ways & Means (D-Boston). “By passing this legislation, the House is taking an important step in helping our Commonwealth provide those services in the world of COVID-19.”
“This legislation began over a year ago as a vehicle to assist the Commonwealth with its IT infra-structure needs,” said Representative Danielle Gregoire, (D-Marlboro), House Chair of the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight. “Since that time, our state has been working to overcome the worst pandemic in modern time, and we have learned first-hand just how essential updated and properly functioning IT infrastructure can be to the productivity of an economy. I am proud to have worked with the Speaker, Chairman Michlewitz, Chairman Cabral and my colleagues in the House to bring this ever critical legislation forward to assist our munici-palities, residents and business partners during this time.”
“This General Government Information Technology bond bill creates a number of meaningful op-portunities for the state to invest in its capital infrastructure,” said Representative Antonio F. D. Cabral (D-New Bedford), Chair of the House Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets. “The authorizations for IT improvements across state agencies will improve our col-lective ability to respond residents’ needs, particularly in times of crisis. Critical government ser-vices need to be provided in a user-friendly way and these investments will help us achieve greater accessibility.”
The plan includes $650 million in IT needs, including $40 million in education grants to public schools to enhance remote learning environments and services. It also:
The capital plan also includes the following:
• $30 million in municipal grants for proper safety equipment for first re-sponders;
• $100 million for capital projects at Health and Human Services facilities to better handle providing amenities throughout the pandemic;
• $41 million for food infrastructure and security needs to the most vul-nerable populations;
• $10 million for software/hardware upgrades at community health cen-ters;
• $5 million for SNAP Gap development.
• Other highlights include grants to cities and towns for a number of needs, including expanded access to broadband, library construction, ADA compliance, and other generic capital needs our municipalities might have.
The bill will now go to the Senate.