For Immediate Release: 3-29-23
Contact: Peter Jasinski | firstname.lastname@example.org
BOSTON – On Wednesday, Gov. Maura Healey approved a $388.6 million supplemental budget for Fiscal Year 2023. The spending bill, which was passed by the Legislature last week, allocates funds for a variety of issues, including resources for remote public participation in governmental operations and funding for free school meals, as well as increased investment in the state’s clean water and public works projects.
Notably, the bill extends initiatives first adopted during the early days of the pandemic that have proven beneficial or necessary to the general public and worthy of being continued, including remote public meeting access, outdoor dining, and increased supports for assisted living facilities.
“This comprehensive bill will improve the lives of Massachusetts residents in a variety of ways. By meeting the urgent needs of ensuring that public school students can continue to receive free school lunches and increasing assistance to housing-insecure populations, this legislation will make a meaningful difference,” said Sen. John F. Keenan (D-Quincy).
“The Town of Rockland is extremely grateful that Sen. Keenan has supported this extension to allow remote and hybrid public meetings through March 31, 2025. This technology has proven to be effective since the pandemic to not only maintain, but actually increase, community engagement,” said Douglas Lapp, Rockland Town Administrator. “This will enable cities and towns throughout the Commonwealth to continue to effectively conduct public business in a transparent manner that best meets the needs of our individual communities.”
The supplemental budget includes a $130 million appropriation for SNAP food assistance benefits to provide a path for families that had been receiving enhanced SNAP benefits throughout the pandemic. Other notable allocations include $68 million for the Early Education C3 stabilization grant program, $65 million for the continuation of free school meals, $45 million for emergency shelter assistance, and more than $40 million to support affordable housing for immigrants and refugees.
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
- $1 million 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 supplemental budget also makes significant investments in initiatives first attempted during the pandemic that have continued to prove themselves valuable in the present.
This legislation authorizes:
- 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.
The bill also further authorizes $740.3 million in bonding to bolster the Commonwealth’s clean water and other public works projects for cities and towns, as well as to support the ability of Massachusetts to obtain competitive federal grants. The bonding initiative includes $400 million for the MassWorks Infrastructure Program, which provides grants to municipalities for local projects. Another $125 million has been allocated 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.