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$368M Supplemental Budget funds several DiDomenico priorities to help vulnerable children and families

Senator DiDomenico Speaking on the Supp Budget
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  Last week Senator Sal DiDomenico joined his colleagues in the Massachusetts Senate in passing a $368.7 million (M) supplemental budget for Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23). Several DiDomenico priorities were included in this legislation to fund vital services that support vulnerable populations and address food insecurity, housing instability, the state’s long-term COVID-19 response, economic development, essential support services for incoming immigrants and refugees, and more. Notably, the bill also extends initiatives first implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as outdoor dining, remote public meeting access, and support for assisted living residences. The bill further authorizes $814.3 in bonding to bolster the Commonwealth’s clean water and other public works projects for cities and towns, as well as to support the Commonwealth’s ability to compete for competitive federal grant funds.

  “I was proud to vote for this supplemental budget which prioritizes feeding, housing, and financially supporting people across backgrounds in our state,” said Senator DiDomenico, who is Assistant Majority Leader of the Massachusetts Senate. “I am also especially pleased that we have included funding for several of my priorities including the extension of Universal School Meals through the end of the year, supporting early education providers, extending SNAP benefits, and providing wraparound services for immigrants and refugees. I want to thank Senate President Spilka, Chair Rodrigues, and their staff for bringing the supplemental budget to the floor.”

  DiDomenico spoke during the Senate debate and highlighted the fact that the bill invests $368.7M to address several time-sensitive needs for an array of programs relied on by some of the most vulnerable residents of the Commonwealth, including $130M for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to provide a glide path for families who were receiving enhanced SNAP benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic, $68M for the Early Education C3 stabilization grant program, $65M for the continuation of free school meals, $45M for emergency shelter assistance and over $40M to support affordable housing for immigrants and refugees. Other measures funded in the bill include:

  • $8.3M for judgments, settlements and legal fees
  • $7M for coordinated wraparound services for incoming immigrants and refugees
  • $2M for the reimbursement of SNAP benefits for victims of benefit theft
  • $2M for the preparation and execution of the 114th National NAACP conference, which is taking place in Massachusetts in 2023; this was adopted via an amendment from Senator Liz Miranda (D-Boston)
  • $1M for a public awareness campaign to educate the public about the misleading tactics of so-called crisis pregnancy centers and their lack of medical services
  • $250,000 for Reproductive Equity Now’s free abortion-related legal hotline

  The bill also authorizes $814.3 billion in capital expenditures to support economic development projects. Notably, these include $400M for the MassWorks Infrastructure Program, which provides grants to cities, towns and other public entities for infrastructure projects, and $200M for state matching funds to compete for federal grant opportunities, including those funded through the CHIPS and Science Act, which encourage innovation in Massachusetts. (CHIPS stands for Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors.) Other bonding items authorized by the bill include:

  • $104M for the Clean Water Trust Fund
  • $34M for a program to revitalize underutilized properties
  • $30M for state matching funds to compete for federal broadband expansion grants and improve state broadband infrastructure
  • $15M for the Massachusetts Manufacturing Innovation Initiative, which supports innovation within the state’s manufacturing industry, including by offering technical assistance to manufacturers and attracting talent from outside of the state
  • $14M for the Massachusetts Manufacturing Accelerate Program
  • $9.3M for broadband middle mile supports
  • $8M for the Smart Growth Housing Trust Fund

  Recognizing the societal shifts that have taken place during the pandemic, the bill also addresses several pandemic-era related measures, including:

  • Permanently allowing public corporations and nonprofits to hold meetings by means of remote communication
  • Permanently allowing notaries public to conduct remote online notarization using communication technology
  • Extending the ability of graduates and students in their last semester of nursing education programs to practice nursing in accordance with guidance from the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing
  • Extending the ability of municipalities to allow outdoor dining services
  • Extending the ability of public bodies to allow remote participation by members in public meetings
  • Extending flexibilities given to cities and towns that allow for town meetings to be held in hybrid or fully remote capacities and that ease the threshold for a quorum
  • Extending the ability of nurses employed by assisted living residences to provide skilled nursing care in accordance with valid medical orders, provided the nurse holds a valid license to provide such care

  Senator Miranda and Senator Robyn K. Kennedy (D-Worcester) both gave their inaugural Senate speeches during consideration of the supplemental budget. Senator Miranda spoke on behalf of her amendment for $2M to support the NAACP’s 114th national conference, which will be taking place in Massachusetts in 2023. The amendment was subsequently unanimously adopted. Senator Kennedy highlighted how the supplemental budget’s $68M investment in C3 early education grants will provide crucial stability to the early education sector.

  As on March 1 the House of Representatives had passed a version of this legislation, the two legislative branches will now reconcile the differences between their bills.

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