Bill passes shortly after being received from House, clears way for funding of emergency shelter aid and worker contracts
BOSTON (12/04/2023) – Today, the Massachusetts Senate took final action on a supplemental budget designed to close out Fiscal Year 2023. Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) supported the supplemental budget, which totals $3.1 billion and contains several provisions to support the ongoing operations of programs and services that benefit the residents of the Commonwealth.
To address the ongoing humanitarian emergency shelter crisis, the final bill allocates $250 million to be spent to address costs associated with sheltering eligible families, including by making funding available for temporary emergency shelter sites for families on a waitlist for permanent shelter. The final bill also stipulates that a portion of the $250 million be spent on support services and resources so that individuals and families can address the complex issues and challenges they face, as well as reimbursements to school districts for increased enrollment costs associated with an influx of migrant students.
“With our final action to close the books on Fiscal Year 2023, we directed funds to meaningful needs of the Commonwealth,” said Senator Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “This supplemental budget provides economic relief to the many communities, including municipalities in the Fourth Middlesex district, who are doing a tremendous job handling the expanded emergency shelter system. We also ensure that we meet our contractual obligations with state collective bargaining units and deliver agreed upon raises to the many deserving state employees during this holiday season.”
To ensure oversight of spending on the emergency shelter crisis, the bill requires robust reporting every 14 days. In addition to $250 million for the emergency shelter system, the budget provides $10 million for resettlement agencies to assist immigrants and refugees and authorizes the use of up to $2 million in available funds from the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund to support career centers in their efforts to assist immigrants and refugees in securing federal work authorizations.
The largest spending item in the bill was related to health care costs provided through MassHealth. Other notable items in the closeout supplemental budget include:
- $378 million to fund collective bargaining increases for state workers;
- $75 million for school districts impacted by special education tuition rate increases;
- $15 million for disaster relief for municipalities impacted by storms and natural disasters that occurred in 2023; and
- $100 million in supplemental pension payments to remove any further increased liability resulting from the 2015 early retirement incentive program.
The supplemental budget passed in both the House and Senate chambers, and was sent to the Governor and signed into law.