Timilty Passes $388.6 Million Supplemental Budget
Bill funds essential services relied on by vulnerable populations, the continuation of free school meals, extends COVID-era measures, and authorizes public works bonding to support cities and towns
(BOSTON–03/23/2023) State Senator Walter F. Timilty (D-Milton), along with his colleagues in both the Massachusetts State Senate and House of Representatives, passed a $388.6 million supplemental budget for Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23).
“This legislation will fund vital services that support vulnerable populations and address food insecurity,” said Timilty. “Moreover, funding will support those people experiencing or on the verge of experiencing homelessness. In addition, this supplemental budget includes measures for the state’s long-term COVID-19 response and economic development plans.”
This bill, which was reconciled by both the House and the Senate on March 23rd, invests $388.6 million to address several time-sensitive needs for an array of programs including $130 million for SNAP food assistance benefits to provide a path for families who were receiving enhanced SNAP benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic, $68 million for the Early Education C3 stabilization grant program, $65 million for the continuation of free school meals, and $45 million for emergency shelter assistance.
“The security of knowing your child is guaranteed free meals at school not only alleviates the burden of food costs for families, but also ensures that nutritious meals will be available for our children. Providing free meals, it will help our students better concentrate on their academics,” said Timilty. “Quite simply, kids cannot learn on empty stomachs. I am especially pleased that we were able to provide funding to continue school meals for all through the 2023 school year.”
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 $740.3 million in bonding to bolster the Commonwealth’s clean water and other public works projects for cities and towns. In addition, this supplemental budget will support the Commonwealth’s ability to compete for competitive federal grant funds.
“My colleagues and I in the State Legislature have taken the necessary steps to keep the economy of the Commonwealth on a firm footing. The passage of this supplemental budget utilizes tax revenues to its fullest, making substantial investments in economic development, housing, education, and social services,” said Timilty.
Other measures funded in the bill include:
- $8.3 million for judgments, settlements, and legal fees
- $7 million for coordinated wraparound services for incoming immigrants and refugees
- $2 million for the reimbursement of SNAP benefits for victims of benefit theft
- $2 million for the preparation and execution of the 114th National NAACP conference, which is taking place in Massachusetts in 2023
The bill also authorizes $740.3 million in capital expenditures to support economic development projects. Notably, these include $400 million for the MassWorks Infrastructure Program, which provides grants to cities, towns, and other public entities for infrastructure projects, and $125 million for state matching funds to compete for federal grant opportunities, including those funded through the CHIPS and Science Act, which encourage innovation in Massachusetts. Other bonding items authorized by the bill include:
- $104 million for the Clean Water Trust Fund
- $34 million for a program to revitalize underutilized properties
- $30 million for state matching funds to compete for federal broadband expansion grants and improve state broadband infrastructure
- $15 million 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
- $14 million for the Massachusetts Manufacturing Accelerate Program
- $9.3 million for broadband middle mile supports
- $8 million 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 certain 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 popular pandemic-related provisions including outdoor dining services, and beer, wine and cocktails to-go for a year
- Extending the ability of public bodies to allow remote participation by members in public meetings
- Extending flexibilities given to municipalities to allow for representative town meetings to be held in hybrid or fully remote capacities and that authorize reduced in-person quorum requirements
- 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.
The supplemental budget includes the following provisions related to the end of the public health emergency on May 11, 2023:
- Temporarily extending flexibility on ambulance staffing
- Temporarily extending the ability of staff of a community program to administer prepackaged medications if in compliance with DPH guidance
- Temporarily extending staffing flexibilities related to dialysis providers.
Having been passed by the Senate and the House, the supplemental budget has been signed by Governor Healey this week.