By Bob Katzen

The Senate, on a voice vote, without a roll call, approved its own version of a $1.65 billion fiscal 2022 supplemental budget. The House has approved a different version of the package and a conference committee will hammer out a compromise version.

Provisions include $700 million for the state’s COVID-19 response; extending until March 2023 several protections for tenants experiencing COVID-19-related financial problems; $10 million for the Office of Immigrants and Refugees to support the resettlement of Ukrainian refugees; $346 million for resources to ensure that eligible Medicaid users are able to receive health care and medical services in their own home or local community; $100 million for cities and towns to repair potholes and roads and bridges; $5 million for the Department of Mental Health to expand clientele housing supports; $609,000 for additional staff to implement the Next Generation Roadmap for Massachusetts Climate Policy legislation; and $500,000 to expand the capacity of the Commission on the Status of Women.

One of the major differences from the House version is that the Senate version would require the state’s pension funds to terminate investments with any company that has been sanctioned by the United States as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine or is incorporated in Russia.

“The passage of this supplemental budget today addresses a number of time sensitive needs as we look to simultaneously support our ongoing response to COVID-19, while continuing our commonwealth’s recovery,” said Sen. Mike Rodrigues (D-Westport), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means … We made clear with the passage of this supplemental spending plan that we will always prioritize protecting our most vulnerable populations, supporting our health care and education workforce, investing in local infrastructure needs and taking the necessary steps to ensure vital public services will be available and accessible to all who need them across the commonwealth as we recover from the impacts of the pandemic.”

“Massachusetts has avoided the worst of the financial downside from this pandemic and its effects thanks to a history of careful financial planning and consistent investment in those programs and services which support public health and build resiliency in our communities and our commonwealth,” said Senate President Karen Spilka (D-Ashland). “Today’s supplemental budget continues this trend by providing targeted funding to healthcare, housing, education and transportation needs. Importantly, this budget ensures that Massachusetts can continue to offer sanctuary to refugees fleeing from violence abroad even as war continues in Ukraine.”

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