Timilty joins Senate in Passing FY 2020 COVID-19 $1.1B Supplemental Budget

BOSTON (7/03/2020) – State Senator Walter F. Timilty (D-Milton) joined his colleagues in the Massachusetts State Senate on Thursday, July 2, 2020, passing a $1.1B supplemental budget for Fiscal Year 2020 to support extraordinary costs related to the COVID-19 pandemic that require immediate attention.

“Our revenues are in a free fall,” said Timilty. “This supplemental budget will help with the extraordinary cost as it relates to Covid-19, and will immediately help the towns I proudly serve.”

The spending authorized in this supplemental budget will maximize federal financial support while providing critical resources for our most vulnerable populations.

“We are thankful that the Commonwealth is being reimbursed for this supplemental spending package,” he added.

Timilty filed several amendments earmarking a combined $500,000 for the benefit of the ten towns in the Norfolk, Bristol and Plymouth District that were adopted unanimously by the body.

Specifically, the towns of Avon, Braintree, Canton, East Bridgewater, Easton, Milton, Randolph Sharon, Stoughton, and West Bridgewater will each receive $25,000 for local Covid-19 prevention and mitigation. Funds may be used to purchase personal protective equipment, cleaning supplies, plastic barriers, or to implement the new social distancing requirements for preparing schools for students. The towns each will determine how best to utilize the funds.

Additionally, the substance abuse coalitions in the district will each receive $27,000

The coalitions that this amendment targets includes: Avon Coalition for Every Student; Braintree Community Partnership on Substance Abuse; Canton Alliance Against Substance Abuse; EB Hope, Inc. in the town of East Bridgewater; Easton Wings of Hope; Milton Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition; Randolph Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition; Sharon Substance Prevention and Resource Commission; and Organizing Against Substances in Stoughton.

“The fight against addiction continues – especially in this pandemic. Those in need of help often receive support in the form of group meetings, to feel connected and bond with those who have been in similar circumstances. However, now, since the pandemic has forced nearly every agency to shift its programs, those in need of assistance are likely feeling more isolated,” said Timilty. “The isolation during this Covid-19 era can create an increase in depression and anxiety, especially in a population of those already more vulnerable. This is but one example of the challenges being faced as a public health crisis intersects with a pandemic.”

“Each of these coalitions promotes enhanced awareness and education; serves as a critical gateway to resources for those in need; and seeks to address those in need with compassion, empathy, and understanding,” Timilty said.

Timilty also filed an amendment which will allow the Veterans’ Bonus Division to issue Covid-19 bonuses for those members of the Massachusetts Army National Guard who were mobilized to help combat the Covid-19 pandemic in the Commonwealth.

“We need to support our veteran and active service member community. Many faced financial hardship before the pandemic and now are faced with greater uncertainty during this pandemic,” said Timilty, who serves as the Co-Chair of the Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs.

“This amendment provides a unique opportunity to create two new bonuses within the Office of the State Treasurer, at no additional cost to the state or taxpayer,” he said.

Specifically, one bonus would provide $500 to these National Guard veterans. The other bonus would provide $300 for people who served in the armed forces of the United States who have received the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for service during a period where no other state wartime bonus is available, with an additional $1,000 for those who died while in active service.

Another amendment adopted that Timilty filed would allow the veterans and family care agency, Home Base, a partnership of the Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital, to carry over the remainder of their FY20 funds to FY21, allowing it to continue delivering critical mental healthcare to veterans and also to launch a pilot program that would serve the Commonwealth’s frontline health care workers.

“This pilot program would extend trauma-informed care and wellness programs to frontline healthcare workers experiencing post-traumatic stress, anxiety, depression, and other invisible wounds incurred by their work on the front lines of the COVID-19 fight,” said Timilty.

In addition to recognizing the health and safety needs of residents, the legislation also establishes Juneteenth as an official state holiday.

To support working families during this uncertain economic time and provide health care supports in the midst of this public health crisis, the supplemental budget passed by the Senate includes $82M for childcare needs, including emergency child care for essential workers, $15M for essential behavioral health services, including services for children, $10M for small business assistance grants, focused on minority, women and veteran-owned businesses in underserved areas and $10M to provide wage supports to workers impacted by COVID-19.

In response to growing food insecurity challenges during this pandemic, the supplemental budget provides an immediate state allocation of $15M for food security supports, including $9M for the Massachusetts Emergency Food Assistance Program to support our overstretched food bank system during this time of incredible need.

Other notable spending highlights of the FY 2020 COVID-19 supplemental budget include:

· $350M for personal protective equipment.

· $139M for rate add-ons for congregate care and other health and human service providers.

· $85M for field hospitals and shelters.

· $44M for the Community Tracing Collaborative.

· $30M for community health centers.

· $28M for local housing authorities and family and individual shelter services.

· $20M for expanded RAFT coverage for families on the brink of homelessness.

· $20M focused on racial disparities in the health care system during the pandemic.

· $15M for elder affairs services and home care workforce wage supports.

· $12.3M for early intervention services.

· $10M for grants to community foundations serving low-income and immigrant populations with direct supports like housing assistance and food security supports.

· $5M for increased costs related to the recent conference report on expanded vote-by-mail measures for the 2020 election cycle.

· $2M to provide financial assistance to small non-profits impacted by COVID-19.

The supplemental budget also establishes Juneteenth as an official state holiday. Juneteenth is a celebration of the day in 1865 when the remaining enslaved African Americans in the United States were told of their freedom under the Emancipation Proclamation.

The Senate and Massachusetts House of Representatives will now work to reconcile outstanding differences between the supplemental budgets passed in each chamber.

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