Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday signed the nearly $4 billion spending bill that will put federal recovery dollars and state budget surplus funds into the hands of towns, schools, small businesses and others affected by the pandemic — but not before attempting to change how the commonwealth's frontline workers will receive a promised $500 million.

"This bill directs funding to key areas in need of support as Massachusetts continues its recovery from the pandemic. It invests substantially in health care, housing and homeownership, workforce development, and other key priorities," Baker wrote to legislators in a letter accompanying his signature.

Baker didn't do much to alter the compromise worked out between House and Senate Democrats earlier this month to spend billions from the state budget surplus and the state's share of the federal American Rescue Plan Act.

Baker wrote that "after the considerable time the Legislature took to send us this legislation" the program would only be further complicated by having a 28-member advisory panel consult on how to disperse the money before the March deadline lawmakers intended. He added that the legislation as written is "virtually guaranteed to significantly hinder disbursement of the funds."

Baker rejected plenty in that portion of the bill sent to him by lawmakers.

"No one is empowered to call the first meeting of the panel, no chairs are named, and no deadlines apply to the panel," he wrote.

Instead, Baker wants to skip the legislative commission and handle the payments through existing government entities under his control.

"We could send out $500 checks to almost 1 million Massachusetts residents as soon as possible. Reinstituting the panel-driven process envisioned by the Legislature will simply disrupt the rollout midstream," Baker wrote.

Lawmakers can override Baker's changes, but since they aren't scheduled to be back in formal session until the new year, Democrats have already ceded Baker the power to make changes until at least January.