Five Worst Ways Massachusetts Wasted American Rescue Plan Act Money

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Massachusetts is burning through money that never should have been allocated in the first place.

In February 2021, President Joe Biden signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act into law. It was an inflation-expanding stimulus package that, among other provisions, gave $350 billion to state, local, and tribal governments. 

So did our state and municipal governments put that money to good use?

Take a guess.

Here are five of the worst pieces of pork that Massachusetts and its communities got from this monstrosity: 


1. Free College For Illegal Immigrants

The American Rescue Plan Act will pay for illegal immigrants to attend college for free, starting next school year.

The Boston Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development under Mayor Michelle Wu announced its plans to spend $4 million to expand the city’s Tuition-Free Community College Plan, as NewBostonPost reported earlier this month. 

The program’s eligibility has been expanded to cover all residents, regardless of their graduation year, income level, or immigration status. The new rules mean that immigrants can use the free college program during the 2023-2024 school year.

Under the plan, current Boston residents can attend one of six partner community colleges without paying tuition or fees:  Benjamin Franklin Cummings Institute of Technology, Bunker Hill Community College, Massasoit Community College, MassBay Community College, Roxbury Community College, and Urban College of Boston.

Of the $4 million being used to expand the program, $3 million comes from the American Rescue Plan Act, while another $1 million was earmarked by U.S. Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-Hyde Park) in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2022, a $1.5 trillion omnibus spending bill signed into law by President Joe Biden in March 2022.

Before its expansion, the program funded tuition-free college for recent Boston high school graduates who lived in the United States legally.

Now, Boston is slapping the American people by giving their hard-earned money to illegal immigrants. The government should never encourage illegal immigration, because it has many downsides, including crime, terrorism, drug smuggling, disease, downward pressure on wages, the fiscal burden, the fracturing of social cohesion, and increased carbon emissions, among other problems.

Oh, and it’s illegal.


2.  Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Manhole Covers

Local politicians I’ve spoken to off the record have repeatedly told me that spending federal stimulus money on water and sanitation projects is, objectively, a good idea.

I agree. 

Therefore, there is nothing inherently wrong with a municipality using federal funds to purchase manhole covers. Sewers help keep municipalities sanitary and prevent diseases, and workers need ways to access them. 

However, the city of Northampton, Massachusetts wasted money by using $20,000 to purchase four Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles manhole covers. Sure, there is a connection between TMNT and Northampton; Mirage Studios, which created the TMNT comic book series, was based in Northampton. 

Still, the government should at least try to be good stewards of taxpayer money. If a city or town has money for custom Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles manhole covers, it probably didn’t need federal stimulus money in the first place. 

Plus, the $5,000-per-cover rate is absurd. It costs the Maryland State Highway Administration between $1,000 to $1,500 to replace manhole covers. Sounds like Northampton got ripped off. 


3.  Vaccine Lottery

State governments took many different initiatives to encourage people to get vaccinated against coronavirus, largely centering on urban and minority communities, given their mixes of population density, vaccine hesitancy, and poorer health outcomes, generally speaking. 

However, Massachusetts also ran one statewide that was, you guessed it, a dud.

The state held five weekly coronavirus vaccination lotteries between July and August 2022. The state gave away five $1 million prizes to adults 18 and older. It also gave five $300,000 college scholarships to minors between 12 and 17 years old. That’s $6.5 million in prizes alone, not counting the cost of promoting and administering the program. The program’s funding came from the American Rescue Plan Act.

So how did it work?

It didn’t, according to a study published in the peer-reviewed JAMA Health Forum.

The study found that there was essentially “zero difference” in vaccination rates when states held vaccine lotteries, compared to when they did not. 

Andrew Friedson, associate professor of economics at the University of Colorado Denver, who co-authored the study, said that states need to do something different the next time they want to encourage people to get vaccinated.

“Statistically speaking, our research points to a disappointing outcome — that is, there was no significant association found between a cash-drawing announcement and the number of vaccinations administered after the announcement date,” Friedson said in a written statement. “This shows a clear need to reassess how we are encouraging individuals to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.”

The study — conducted by Friedson and academics from Bentley University, San Diego State University, and the University of Oregon — looked at the coronavirus vaccination rates before and after the vaccine lotteries in the 19 states where they took place and compared the data to the rest of the country.

“This study is critically important as it gives us a chance to course correct and design better incentive policies,” Friedson said. “While other studies have examined the effectiveness of a single lottery, such as Ohio’s ‘Vax-a-Million,’ which leaves open the possibility that other lotteries might have done a better job, our research looks at how ALL state lotteries to-date have performed in tandem. This allows for a nationally applicable take on what works (or in this case, what doesn’t work) to encourage vaccinations.”


4.  NAACP Funding

The $4 billion spending package signed into law by then-Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker that used American Rescue Plan Act funding gave $200,000 to the left-wing National Association for the Advancement of Colored People thanks to state representative Russell Holmes (D-Mattapan). 

The NAACP urged pro athletes not to sign with Texas teams over the state’s heartbeat abortion ban in 2021; that should disqualify the organization from receiving one cent from the government. Beyond that, a group that advocates on behalf of one racial group shouldn’t get money from the government, because by definition it’s excluding everyone else. 

Does the black community disproportionately face problems that politicians need to address? Absolutely. However, given that one of those problems is people being killed before they’re born, the NAACP isn’t a worthy charity.


5.  The Racial Equity and Justice Institute

Thanks to state Representative Liz Miranda (D-Roxbury), the Baker-approved spending bill also included $100,000 for the Racial Equity and Justice Institute at Bridgewater State University. That money funded “the expansion of dissemination of handbooks, and expand programming to higher educational institutions in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.”

The diversity, equity, and inclusion industry in higher education is a racket. It creates useless administrative positions for liberals who put their personal pronouns in their email signatures and needlessly increases the cost of higher education. If we want to have affordable higher education in this state, cutting bloat will need to happen at some point — not increasing spending on it.

Plus, Miranda represents Boston, not Bridgewater, so it’s bizarre she asked to earmark money for something 26 miles outside of her district.


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