Financing Capital Expenditures in Massachusetts

by Alicia H. Munnell and Leah M. Cook
March/April 1991

Spending on capital projects in Massachusetts has not contributed in any significant fashion to the state’s budget crisis. During the 1980s the state probably spent too little, rather than too much, on public infrastructure. The states nationwide are caught between the increased requirements of localities and decreased funding from the federal government. The Massachusetts situation is particularly troublesome. The state spent most of the 1980s embroiled in conflict with the Administration over federal funding for the Central Artery Depression! Third Harbor Tunnel project.

The article concludes that Massachusetts’ current complex and ambitious capital spending agenda requires centralized decision-making and a mechanism for ranking projects by their importance. The current fragmentation of initiatives and financing among the state and independent authorities is no longer workable.

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