By Bob Katzen
The House 133-25, approved and sent to the Senate a $2.8 billion supplemental budget to close out the books for fiscal year 2023. Provisions include $2.1 billion for MassHealth for caseload adjustments; $300 million for a reserve to fund collective bargaining agreements with state employees; and $10 million in additional flood relief for municipalities hit by severe rain events this summer.
Debate centered around a key controversial provision that provides $250 million for the shelter system that Healey requested nearly two months ago, before she announced that she was capping the emergency shelter system at 7,500 families. Some $50 million of the $250 million is required to go toward “the identification, acquisition and operationalization of a state funded overflow emergency shelter site or sites” for families placed on a shelter waitlist.
The $250 million also includes $75 million for supplemental school district costs associated with additional mandatory student enrollments; $10 million for resettlement agencies to connect families with housing and other services; $5 million for migrant and refugee workforce programs; $65 million for the costs associated with sheltering eligible families; $18 million for temporary emergency shelter sites; and $6 million for supplemental staffing needs at emergency assistance shelters.
“As the commonwealth’s shelter system continues to face unprecedented challenges, the funding provided in this supplemental budget, along with the mandated establishment of an overflow emergency site, will help to manage this crisis and ensure that Massachusetts does everything that it can to provide shelter for vulnerable families,” said House Speaker Ron Mariano (D-Quincy). “We continue to call on Congress to approve funds for the local management of this crisis, which is a direct result of legislative inaction on immigration reform, and we continue to urge the Biden-Harris Administration to expedite the work authorization process so that migrants can begin working and successfully exit the emergency assistance program.”
“As the commonwealth works through this crisis, the $250 million in additional funding for our emergency family shelter system will help support our communities and school districts have the resources they need,” said Rep. Aaron Michlewitz (D-Boston) Chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means. “The inclusion of $50 million for a state funded overflow site will ensure that no family has to sleep out in the open as we approach the winter months.”
“I can’t endorse having the taxpayers of my district nor the taxpayers of the commonwealth pay hundreds of millions of their hard earned tax dollars to bail out the horrible open border policy of the Biden administration,” said Rep. Marc Lombardo (R-Billerica).
“I voted against the supplemental budget because I believe it’s crucial for my fellow lawmakers and colleagues on the other side of the aisle to prioritize accountability and fiscal responsibility,” said Rep. Marcus Vaughn (R-Wrentham). “We must halt the flow of taxpayer funding for illegal immigrants until we have a comprehensive understanding of the costs to our state and have implemented necessary policy reforms. In my districts, we have urgent needs that remain unaddressed, and a portion of the proposed $250 million could significantly alleviate the financial burdens my six towns are facing, particularly in funding critical projects like the Tri-County school build and other essential capital necessities.”
(A “Yes” vote is for the supplemental budget. A “No” vote is against it.)
Rep. Christine Barber Yes Rep. Mike Connolly Yes Rep. Paul Donato Yes Rep. Erika Uyterhoeven Yes