Mass

Diehl Urges Baker to Say NO to Billions in Pork Spending

Diehl Urges Baker to Veto ARPA Bill for More UI $$$
Republican candidate for governor Geoff Diehl on Monday called for Gov. Charlie Baker to veto the $4 billion spending bill that the Legislature finalized last week, arguing that the plan to spend American Rescue Plan Act funds fell short of the need in the business community for the state to reduce employers’ unemployment insurance costs.

The bill passed by the House and Senate [in informal sessions, with no discussion, no debate and practically no one in attendance] dedicated $500 million from the state’s share of ARPA to the unemployment insurance trust fund. Baker has previously proposed spending $1 billion on UI support for businesses.

“There is a clear and present need to protect Massachusetts businesses — and through them, the workers they employ — from the imminent threat of higher taxes,” Diehl said in a statement. “For our state to allocate recently-received federal funding without adequately protecting our state’s economy from potential disaster is irresponsible and must be corrected.”

Earlier this year with businesses facing a steep spike in unemployment insurance costs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Legislature passed a bill authorizing up to $7 billion in borrowing to eliminate the sticker shock and allow employers to spread the cost of replenishing the UI fund over many years. The state has yet to borrow any money, but Baker said recently a decision could be coming this month on how much will be required to put the fund back on solid footing.

Officials recently reported that the fund had a balance of $2.9 billion, but about $2.3 billion was borrowed and must be repaid to the federal government.

The administration also hasn’t published monthly trust fund reports in months.

State Sen. Diana DiZoglio, a Democratic candidate for state auditor, wrote a letter to Baker on Friday requesting a full financial report.

Diehl said he was “shocked by the irresponsibility of spending this money without taking credible action to address shortfalls in our unemployment insurance fund.” “I have no doubt that certain spending in the bill is well-warranted, if not necessary, and I do not advocate that the entire $4 billion bill be spent on unemployment claims,” Diehl said. “The pandemic brought about many needs that rightfully should be addressed. However, the $500 million allocated by the Legislature is not enough.”

Baker has until next Monday to act on the bill, which proposes to spend a combination of ARPA funding and fiscal year 2021 surplus revenue.

The Legislature also left about $2.25 billion in state ARPA money unallocated, to be considered at a later date. – Matt Murphy/SHNS

2 Replies to “Diehl Urges Baker to Say NO to Billions in Pork Spending

  1. WHAT “pork spending”?

    There is no mention of “pork” in this article.

    Diehl said he was “shocked by the irresponsibility of spending this money
    without taking credible action to address shortfalls in our unemployment insurance fund……. ”
    but
    “However, the $500 million allocated by the Legislature is not enough.”

    So is he in favor of paying the bills or not?

    1. Well, the bill as passed has 165 pages, and many have written of all the little obscure things in it, such as:
      $50,000 shall be expended for the renovation of the town 1687 common gazebo in the town of Townsend; (hmm, why just Townsend?)
      $100,000 shall be expended to the city of Brockton for irrigation, growing and grass improvements at the East middle school soccer field (hmm, why just Brockton?)
      $100,000 shall be expended for increased pedestrian lighting on public ways in Saugus (hmm, why just Saugus?)
      $500,000 shall be expended to the city of Peabody for the Lawrence Brook flood mitigation project; (hmm, this has what to do with COVID?)

      You can go through the 165 pages and find so many of these examples, it gets redundant and sick that this is how so-called COVID emergency relief money is being spent.
      Here’s a particularly interesting one: $12 million to be spent on Afghan “refugees.”:
      $12,000,000 shall be expended for the resettlement agencies in the commonwealth set forth herein that contract with the United States Department of State to resettle refugees and immigrants, to support the evacuees of the crisis in Afghanistan;

      Oh, when you’re talking billions, that’s chicken feed. Just keep reading, there’s more.
      Again, it’s supposed to be about COVID relief.
      And Diehl’s point made many places is that billions were spent paying people to stay home (special unemployment benefits), and that companies are on the hook to pay off that deficit. $500 million is a drop in the bucket compared to several billion companies are being forced to pay, while our local state government spends the COVID relief funds on gazebos, grass, Afghans, etc.

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