BOSTON (07/21/2021) – Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) joined her colleagues in the Massachusetts Legislature in passing a $261.6 million supplemental budget for Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21). The FY21 supplemental budget addresses time-sensitive deficiencies, extends expanded voting options, provides supports for the implementation of the 2020 landmark police reform law, and makes investments to support the Commonwealth’s continued recovery from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Continuing to pave the way to an equitable recovery, the supplemental budget includes $191 million to provide support and stability for our early educator workforce, $27.9 million for one-time economic relief payments to families on transitional assistance, and $12.5 million for costs associated with the implementation of last session’s landmark police reform bill.
“As we continue to recover from the effects of the pandemic, we must maintain funding for critical services throughout the Commonwealth, which this supplemental budget allows us to do,” said Senator Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “Through this budget, we are making important investments in our early education and care system, reforming the representation of the MBTA’s governance and management board to better reflect the population it serves, and ensuring voter access by extending mail-in and early voting options.”
Notable components of the funding package include:
Extended Voting Options
The legislation allows for the popular practice of voting early by mail to continue through December 15, 2021, giving eligible voters the ability to exercise their right to cast a ballot while protecting their health and safety. The bill further allows cities and towns the ability to offer early in-person voting for such elections. The extension of these additional voting options come as the Commonwealth continues to grapple with COVID-19 and its related variants, and on the heels of elections in 2020 that saw record participation using these same methods.
The supplemental budget establishes a new Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) Board of Directors. The new oversight body, which takes the place of the Fiscal Management and Control Board, will comprise of seven members and consist of: the Secretary of Transportation, serving as ex officio; five members appointed by the Governor; and one member appointed by the MBTA Advisory Board. The bill requires that one of the Governor appointees to the board be a rider that is a resident of an environmental justice population. The bill also requires that of the seven members, a board seat be given to a member of the labor community.
To support early educators who have been on the front lines throughout the pandemic, the supplemental budget invests $131 million of federal Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) funding for early educator stabilization grants, workforce supports, and system-wide technology upgrades. Additionally, the bill directs $60 million from the Early Education and Care (EEC) COVID-19 Stabilization and Workforce reserve established in the FY21 General Appropriations Act for direct grants to state-subsidized providers.
Safety Net Supports
In addition to supporting early educators, the supplemental budget takes meaningful action to combat the lingering effects of the economic crises the Commonwealth has faced over the last 15 months and ensure families receive the economic supports they need to live, work, and provide stability for their children. To that end, the supplemental budget invests $27.9 million to provide for one-time payments to families that receive Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC) benefits, totaling $525 to $580 per child.
Additionally, the supplemental budget provides $12.5 million to cover costs related to the implementation of last session’s landmark police reform bill. These funds will be used to support bridge academies for reserve officers and special state police officers previously not subject to the same training requirements as the general law enforcement population, to support the first diverse state police cadet class, and to meet municipal police training requirements on mandatory training on de-escalation, use of force, and school resource officers. The bill also includes $5 million to stand up the Peace Officer Standards & Training (POST) Commission.
The legislation will also allow the pension of a police officer who dies while performing their duties in certain emergencies to be paid to their surviving spouse. This change, which closes a loophole, was made to honor the service of Officer Manny Familia, a Worcester police officer who died in June while heroically attempting to save a 14-year-old boy from drowning.
Other notable highlights of the FY21 supplemental budget include:
- $31.9 million for the Medical Assistance Trust Fund;
- $13 million for National Guard activations, including pandemic-related work;
- $11 million for the Department of State Police for pandemic-related costs;
- $9.9 million for increased COVID-19 costs at the Department of Public Health;
- $7.8 million for home health aide rate increases;
- $5.4 million for the Chelsea and Holyoke Soldiers’ Homes for pandemic-related costs; and
- $1 million for the Supplier Diversity Office.
The legislation now moves to the Governor’s desk for consideration.