Mass Senate Passes $261.6 Million Supplemental Budget; Establishes 7-Member MBTA Oversight Board & Funds Police Reform Law

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In full transparency, the following is a press release from the Senate President’s office submitted to SOURCE media.

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BOSTON – The Massachusetts State Senate today, June 24, passed a $261.6 million supplemental budget for Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) to primarily address time-sensitive deficiencies, cover costs related to implementation of the 2020 landmark police reform law and make investments to support the Commonwealth’s continued recovery from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the Senate continues to pave the way to an equitable recovery, the supplemental budget passed today includes $131 million to provide support and stability for our early educator workforce, $27.9 million for one-time economic relief payments to families on transitional assistance, and $12.5 million for costs associated with the implementation of last session’s landmark police reform bill.

“As we carefully emerge into a post-pandemic world, we must continue to keep a close eye on areas which are critical to our Commonwealth’s wellbeing,” stated Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “This supplemental budget provides us additional tools to ensure such areas as early education, public health, veteran and family services and transportation remain resilient as we get back to better. I want to thank Chair Rodrigues, Vice Chair Friedman, the team at Senate Ways and Means and my colleagues for their work and collaboration on this proposal.”

Having been previously passed by the House, the Senate and House will now work to reconcile outstanding differences between the supplemental budgets passed in each chamber before sending the bill to the Governor’s desk.

“As we continue on the path toward our new normal, the supplemental budget passed today by the Senate allows us to pay our bills to address time sensitive needs, while meeting the immediate challenges facing our Commonwealth by investing in our early educator workforce, helping vulnerable families and fulfilling our funding obligations to ensure timely implementation of the police reform law. Additionally, in response to the tragic passing of Worcester Police Officer Familia, this budget includes an amendment we adopted unanimously to close an existing loophole in line of duty death benefits so the families of fallen police officers can get what they are owed,” said Senator Michael J. Rodrigues, Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways & Means (D-Westport). “Thank you to Senate President Spilka for her steady leadership and continued support and to all of my colleagues in the Senate for their advocacy on behalf of their communities as we continue to recover from the lasting impacts of this pandemic.”

“This spending bill maintains funding for critical services throughout the Commonwealth,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “It was particularly important that we made investments in our early education and care system, and that we reformed the representation of the MBTA’s governance and management board to better reflect the population it serves.”

To maintain the Senate’s strong support for early educators who have been on the front lines throughout the pandemic, the supplemental budget invests $131 million of federal Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) funding into the Early Education and Care (EEC) COVID-19 Stabilization and Workforce reserve. This funding will provide early educator stabilization grants, workforce supports and system-wide technology upgrades. 

In addition to supporting early educators, the Senate’s supplemental budget takes meaningful action to combat the lingering effects of the economic crises the Commonwealth has faced over the last 15 months and ensure families receive the economic supports they need to live, work and provide stability for their children. To that end, the budget passed today invests $27.9 million to provide for one-time payments to families that receive Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC) benefits, totaling $525 to $580 per child.

Additionally, the supplemental budget provides $12.5 million to cover costs related to the implementation of last session’s landmark police reform bill. These funds will be used to support bridge academies for reserve officers and special state police officers previously not subject to the same training requirements as the general law enforcement population, support the first diverse state police cadet class, and to meet municipal police training requirements on mandatory training on de-escalation, use of force, and school resource officers.

With the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority ‘s (MBTA) Fiscal Management and Control Board set to expire on June 30, 2021, the supplemental budget passed by the Senate today establishes a new seven-member MBTA Board of Directors effective July 1, 2021 and contains a number of changes on the overall governance and oversight of the MBTA.

The changes include:

  • Establishing the composition of the MBTA Board of Directors. It will comprise seven members and consist of the Secretary of Transportation, serving ex officio; five members appointed by the Governor; and one member appointed by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Advisory Board. 
  • Requiring that one member of the MBTA Board of Directors appointed by the Governor be a rider that uses the services of the Authority and is a resident of an environmental justice population. 
  • Requiring that one member of the MBTA Board of Directors appointed by the Governor be selected from a list of three persons recommended by the president of the AFL-CIO. 
  • Requiring subcommittees on safety, health and environment, planning and workforce development, and audit and finance.

In addition, the Senate voted unanimously to allow the pension of a police officer who dies while performing their duties in certain emergencies to be paid to their surviving spouse.

This change, which closes a loophole, was made to honor the service of Officer Manny Familia, a Worcester police officer who died in June while heroically attempting to save a 14-year-old boy from drowning.

If the Senate’s language is passed, this supplemental budget would ensure that Officer Familia’s family receives the pension he earned.

Other notable highlights of the FY 2021 supplemental budget include:

  • $31.9 million for the Medical Assistance Trust Fund;
  • $13 million for National Guard activations, including pandemic-related work;
  • $11 million for the Department of State Police for pandemic related costs;
  • $9 million for increased COVID-19 costs at the Department of Public Health
  • $7.8 million for home health aide rate increases;
  • $5.4 million for the Chelsea and Holyoke Soldiers’ Homes for pandemic-related costs.
  • $5 million for the Police Officer Standards & Training (POST) Commission;
  • $1 million for the Supplier Diversity Office.

editor

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