By Bob Katzen

The Senate 36-3, approved a $2.81 billion supplemental budget to close out the books for fiscal year 2023.

Provisions include $2.1 billion for MassHealth to cover end of year deficiencies; $250 million for emergency housing; $75 million for school districts impacted by special education tuition rate increases; $15 million for disaster relief for municipalities impacted by storms and naturals disasters that occurred in 2023; funding to support collective bargaining agreements; and $500,000 for the Commission on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Questioning Youth.

According to Senate President Karen Spilka’s office, “The Senate budget stipulates that a portion of the $250 million for emergency housing be spent on community-based, broad, and individualized support services and resources so that individuals and families can address the complex issues and challenges they face, as well as reimbursements to school districts for increased enrollment costs associated with an influx of migrant students. It also authorizes a portion of the $250 million to be spent to address costs associated with sheltering eligible families, as well as creating temporary emergency shelter sites.”

“Today the Senate took a bold step forward, and passed a supplemental budget that not only closes the books on fiscal year 2023, but also acts swiftly to meet the challenges of an unprecedented humanitarian crisis that deserves our full attention, care and assistance,” said Sen. Mike Rodrigues (D-Westport), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “In addition, we allocated $378 million to fully fund all ratified Collective Bargaining Agreements, dedicated $15 million for climate change disaster relief and deposited $100 million to fully pay down the pension liability from the 2015 Early Retirement Incentive Program.”

“I voted ‘no’ on the $250 million that the Healey Administration requested for the migrant crisis,” said Sen. Ryan Fattman (R-Sutton).”If we continue on this path, it will cost taxpayers $1.2 billion this year alone with no end in sight. This will place substantial stress on other social safety net programs intended for Massachusetts residents.”

The House has already approved a different version of the budget and a conference committee will eventually hammer out a compromise version.

(A “Yes” vote is for the supplemental budget. A “No” vote is against it.)

Sen. Patricia Jehlen Yes

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