By Bob Katzen

The Senate 40-0, approved a $368 million fiscal 2023 supplemental budget. The House has already approved its own version of a $363 million package. A House-Senate conference committee will work out a compromise package.

Provisions include $7 million for coordinated wraparound services for incoming immigrants and refugees; $2 million for the reimbursement of SNAP benefits for victims of benefit theft; $1.25 million for Family and Adolescent Health Services; $44.9 for million Emergency Assistance Family Shelters and Services; $65 million for the School Breakfast Program; $7 million to address the needs of newly arrived immigrants and refugees; and $1 million for a public awareness campaign to educate providers and the public about crisis pregnancy centers and pregnancy resource centers and the centers’ lack of medical services. A total of $250,000 of the $1 million would be earmarked for Reproductive Equity Now’s free abortion-related legal hotline.

The package also extends some pandemic-era programs, set to expire, including allowing public corporations and nonprofits to hold meetings by means of remote communication; extending the power of municipalities to allow outdoor dining services; and extending the ability of public bodies to allow remote participation by members in public meetings.

“This supplemental budget ensures that our commonwealth continues to support the most vulnerable among us while also building on the lessons we learned during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Senate President Karen Spilka (D-Ashland). “I’m proud to say that this body has proven once again that it has the courage to chart a course that leaves no place or person in the commonwealth behind. As I have said since the start of the pandemic, we must go ‘back to better,’ not ‘back to normal.’”

“As we continue to emerge from the pandemic, the Legislature has taken the necessary steps to keep the economy of the commonwealth on a firm footing,” said Senate Ways and Means Committee chair Sen. Mike Rodrigues (D-Westport). “The passage of this supplemental budget today utilizes robust tax revenues to its fullest effect, making substantial investments in economic development, housing, education and the social service safety net.”

(A “Yes” vote is for the budget.)

Sen. Patricia Jehlen Yes

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