By Bob Katzen
The House 154-0, approved and sent to the Senate a $135 million supplemental budget to cover expenses and to fund various state programs and agencies that are running out of money. The package is some $30 million less than the one proposed by Gov. Charlie Baker in early February.
Provisions include $30 million in funding for the Low Income Heating Energy Assistance Program to help low-income elders, working families and other households pay a portion of winter heating bills; $10 million for emergency shelter assistance for families; $8 million for the collection and testing of sexual assault evidence kits; and $1.4 million for an independent statewide examination of the safety of the gas distribution infrastructure.
Other funding includes $494,662 for the Sex Offender Registry; $28 million for the Department of Corrections; and creation of the Massachusetts Veterans and Warriors to Agriculture Program to enhance the education, training, employment of veterans currently working or aspiring to work in the field of agriculture.
Supporters said the package is a reasonable and fiscally responsible one. “It will tackle immediate needs, including $30 million going to the Low Income Heating Energy Assistance }Program ensuring that no family in the commonwealth will be forced to put off paying heating bills,” tweeted newly-minted House Ways and Means chair Aaron Michlewitz (D-Boston).