By Bob Katzen

The House 153-0, Senate 39-0, approved and sent to Gov. Maura Healey a $388.6 million fiscal 2023 supplemental budget. The House and Senate approved different versions a few weeks ago, but last week they agreed on this new version.

Provisions include $65 million for free school meals; $130 million to keep expanded nutrition assistance in place for a few more months; $2 million for the reimbursement of SNAP benefits for victims of benefit theft; $250,000 for a free abortion-related legal hotline; $45 million for emergency shelter assistance; $40 million to support affordable housing for immigrants and refugees; and $2 million for the Boston branch of the NAACP for costs of some programs to be included in its 114th National NAACP Conference in 2023 in Boston.

Other provisions keep some pandemic-era programs, set to expire, in place including allowing restaurants to sell beer, wine and cocktails for take-out; expanding outdoor dining; and extending the authority, set to expire in a few weeks, for public bodies, agencies and commissions to hold their meetings remotely.

“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 the Legislature has proven once again that it has the courage to chart a course that leaves no place or person in the commonwealth behind.”

“I’m proud that, among several critical investments, this supplemental budget provides support for many of the most vulnerable residents and communities in Massachusetts through funding for free school lunches, financial assistance to homeless shelters facing an increase in their migrant population and extended enhanced SNAP benefits,” said House Speaker Ron Mariano (D-Quincy).

“In partnership with the House, the Legislature has taken the necessary steps to keep the economy of the commonwealth on a firm footing as we continue to emerge from the pandemic,” said Sen. Mike Rodrigues (D-Westport), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “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.”

“This relatively modest supplemental budget addresses some of the most pressing needs the commonwealth is facing,” said House Committee on Ways and Means Chair Rep. Aaron Michlewitz (D-Boston). “Whether it is ensuring that our school children have access to free meals, essential early childcare education grants or directing critical resources to deal with the influx of migrants coming into the commonwealth, these funds will have an immediate and positive effect for the residents of the state.”

(A “Yes” vote is for the $388.6 million supplemental budget.)

Rep. Christine Barber Yes Rep. Mike Connolly Yes Rep. Erika Uyterhoeven Yes Sen. Patricia Jehlen Yes

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