BOSTON (WWLP) – Late Wednesday, Governor Maura Healey signed a combined spending and borrowing bill into law that will provide funding for state needs and extended many pandemic era policies.
It includes $388 million in spending and $740 million in bonding. $68 million will be going to continue grants for childcare providers, $130 million for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and $65 million to extend universal free meals in school.
An item that will especially affect western Massachusetts is $30 million for state matching funds to compete for federal broadband expansion grants.
Representative Lindsay Sabadosa believes furthering broadband access will bring further telehealth opportunities to those who need it most, “The hill towns have a lot of people who are over the age of 65, getting them to medical appointments can be really difficult if there are transportation issues, so being bale to have that first visit , where a doctor gets to see you, and determined if you actually need to come in or whether there’s something they can just write a prescription for. Or doing follow up, reading scans with you online, as opposed to making you drive to Springfield, Northampton, Worcester, Boston, whatever the case may be is enormous.”
As for other infrastructure needs, $104 million will go to the Clean Water Trust Fund, $34 million to revitalize underutilized properties, and $9.3 million for broadband middle mile supports.
Many pandemic era policies were also extended in the bill, like remote participation for public meetings, extending outdoor dining services, and allowing cocktails to go for a year.