Vargas on Legislative Responsibility to Fairly & Transparently Allocate Federal Stimulus Dollars
The state legislature and Gov. Charlie Baker have differing opinions on who should determine how new federal COVID-19 aid gets distributed.
State Rep. Andy X. Vargas, a recent guest on WHAV’s morning program, said Baker had “full latitude” on how to spend the money during the emergency, but now the legislature wants a say.
“We in the legislature, as the purse of state government, felt we had a role and responsibility to make sure we were overseeing how those funds were being spent, particularly since the state of the emergency has ended. You’ll recall that the CARES Act, which was the first stimulus round that the federal government did, the legislature provided the governor with a lot of latitude to spend that money because we were in a state of emergency. And, now that the governor has ended the state of emergency, we feel like we have a responsibility in the legislature to make sure we have a transparent and open conversation about how that funding is getting invested into our community,” he said.
Vargas says the legislature will be holding hearings to take a methodical approach spending the federal funds, adding that there isn’t a rush to spend the money, because state revenues are in good shape—a situation he was surprised to learn. Vargas said he didn’t think the recovery would be this fast and this strong—and he credits a couple of reasons for why it’s happening.