Baker seeks to dole out extra state cash
Files bill to spend $1.6b on COVID, child care, human services
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
WITH TAX COLLECTIONS running nearly $1.5 billion ahead of expectations, Gov. Charlie Baker on Friday filed a spending bill that seeks to spend $1.6 billion in state funds to keep COVID-19 response efforts going and to invest in stressed sectors, like child care and human services.
The supplemental budget would allocate $2.4 billion total, but federal funding and reimbursements would reduce the state’s total to $1.6 billion, Baker’s office said. The bill includes $700 million dedicated to the COVID-19 public health response (rapid tests and surveillance testing in congregate care settings, maintaining vaccination sites, providing monoclonal antibody treatments, and more), $450 million to extend Commonwealth Cares for Children (C3) stabilization grants for child care providers through fiscal year 2023, $401 million worth of rate enhancements for human service providers, and $140 million for special education schools to address staffing needs.
“Massachusetts remains in a strong fiscal position, which enables us to use surplus Fiscal Year 2022 revenues to sustain our efforts to respond to COVID-19 and invest in areas like early education, human services, housing and more,” Baker said. “Thanks to our careful management of state finances in partnership with the Legislature and the resilience of our economy, revenues continue to exceed projections, making Massachusetts well-positioned to make these investments.”
On the policy side of things, Baker is proposing to exempt payments from the state’s COVID-19 Essential Employee Premium Pay program from the Massachusetts income tax, to mandate the appointment of a guardian ad litem in every alleged child abuse or neglect case through the Juvenile Court, and to extend certain COVID-19 state of emergency provisions, including the eviction protection provision that is currently set to expire on April 1. Baker’s budget bill would extend that to January 1, 2023.