BOSTON (AP) — The state House has approved a spending bill that includes an additional $50 million to cover the costs of snow and ice removal during a recent crippling blast of winter weather that dumped more than 8 feet of snow in places.
The measure, filed by Gov. Charlie Baker, totals more than $350 million. It includes $190 million to cover unanticipated increases in state employee health care costs and $44 million for a program that provides shelter for homeless families.
A state transportation official says the additional funds would help the state catch up on payments owed to snow removal contractors.
Frank DePaola said the state has blown through its annual snow and ice budget for state highways, spending $129 million. The total annual budget was $107 million, including a $50 million deficit allowance, which also has been exhausted.
DePaola, until recently the state’s highway director and now interim general manager of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, said some snow removal vendors have not been paid since mid-February.
“We are out of cash to pay them,” he said.
John Jenkins, chairman of the Department of Transportation board of directors, said the state had an obligation to pay contractors who have done a “magnificent job” clearing snow during the spate of severe winter storms this year.
“Let’s get them paid,” said Jenkins. “It’s just unfair.”
The bill now heads to the Senate.
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