State Senator Jason Lewis joined his colleagues in the Massachusetts Senate to pass a bipartisan $1.65 billion supplemental budget bill for Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22). The legislation makes critical investments in the state’s long-term COVID-19 recovery; addresses staffing shortages in schools; provides support for home and community-based services, assistance, and protections for families experiencing housing and energy insecurity; funds winter road improvements; extends outdoor dining services for restaurants; and provides for the resettlement of Ukrainian refugees in Massachusetts. Notably, the bill also would divest the state pension fund from any Russian assets in response to the Russian war in Ukraine.
“I’m pleased that the Senate passed this important bill to continue to support the Commonwealth’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Senator Jason Lewis. “I’m particularly pleased that the legislation includes critical funding to address special education staffing shortages in our schools, as well as money to support resettlement of Ukrainian refugees in Massachusetts.”
The bill includes the following appropriations and other provisions:
- $700 million for the state’s ongoing COVID-19 response and recovery to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and ensure robust preparation in the event of a future variant outbreak.
- $10 million for the Office of Immigrants and Refugees to support the resettlement of international evacuees, including Ukrainian refugees.
- Requires the Commonwealth’s Pension Reserves Investment Management (PRIM) Board to divest any holdings from companies officially sanctioned by the Biden administration or incorporated in Russia.
- Several provisions relating to housing stability and support for individuals currently experiencing or near homelessness.
- Funds to increase access to healthcare and medical services, including mental health care, behavioral health, and substance use disorder treatment.
- A provision extending the authorization for the Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education to issue emergency educator licenses until 180 days after the end of the public health emergency
- $100 million for a new Winter Road Recovery Assistance Program for cities and towns to repair potholes and roads and bridges worn down by adverse weather conditions.
- $20 million for Victim of Crime Act (VOCA) funding which supports no-cost counseling, advocacy, and intervention services to victims of crime, thereby covering the immediate needs of the Victim and Witness Assistance Board as they are experiencing a shortage of federal funding.
- $10 million for Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled and Children (EAEDC).
- $8.4 million for Department of Children and Families foster family rates.
- $8 million for Early Intervention staff stabilization supports.
- $5 million for state election costs.
- $5 million for the Department of Mental Health to expand clientele housing supports.
- $1.7 million for state park investments, including water safety initiatives.
- $0.6 million for additional staffing to implement the state’s climate action legislation.
- $0.5 million to expand the capacity of the Commission on the Status of Women.
Part of the funding included in this legislation will be reimbursed by the federal government. The House and Senate will now work to reconcile some differences between the versions of this bill passed by each branch, before advancing the final version to Governor Baker’s desk.