BOSTON (SHNS) – Gov. Charlie Baker filed a $273 million spending bill on Tuesday that would make substantial investments to finance last year’s police accountability law and includes $131 million for an early education and care COVID-19 workforce reserve.
Baker said the supplemental budget includes authorizations for $191 million in spending that would be covered by federal COVID-19 relief, and would cost the state just $75 million at a time when tax collections are exceeding estimates by more than $1.8 billion.
The governor also filed policy proposals to make it easier for medical professionals licensed in other states to practice in Massachusetts and to account for the disruption the COVID-19 pandemic caused to standardized testing in public schools.
The bill includes $5 million to fund the new Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission, which faces an end-of-year deadline to certify all law enforcement officers in Massachusetts, and another $12.5 million to fund the implementation of other aspects of the policing reform law. The bill also includes $34 million in COVID-19 response expenses, $18 million to cover the activation of the National Guard, $9 million for the public health laboratory and the public health hospitals system, $28 million in transitional assistance for low-income families, and $5.4 million for soldiers’ homes operations.
On the policy side, Baker is also seeking approval to join the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact. The governor, in a filing letter, said the compact would allow physicians licensed in Massachusetts to practice in 29 member states and territories and vice versa, which would “better position the Commonwealth for health emergencies in the future.”
Baker also filed proposals that would allow Education Commissioner Jeff Riley to use 2020 MCAS rankings to identify districts in the bottom 10 percent of the state for performance to determine placement of new charter schools and allowable charter school funding.
Though the spending bill supplements authorizations from the fiscal year 2021 budget, Baker has proposed making much of the funding available through June 30, 2022.