BOSTON (WWLP) – The Senate is preparing for a vote this coming Wednesday on a supplemental budget.
The House and Senate continue to be on different wavelengths, and the latest supplemental budget is no different.
The Senate recommended a $513 million dollar supplemental budget for fiscal year 2023.
This would be in place of the House’s $693 million dollar supplemental budget. Even though a lot of funding is the same between the two bills, like $180 million dollars for hospitals, $75 million for schools facing a rise in special education costs, and $40 million to cover settlement costs in a discrimination case, there are still differences between the chambers.
A large discrepancy is that the House put aside $226 million dollars for collective bargaining purposes, whereas the senate only put aside $26 million.
The senate also did away language backed by the Massachusetts Teachers Association dealing with school nurses.
A major addition that will affect western Massachusetts is that the Senate put in a $20 million dollar fund for farm communities to help assist in the damages done to crops and fields during heavy rains. “And that’s going to go directly to the farms in central and western Massachusetts that have struggled not only with flooding, but also frost and freeze,” said Senator Jo Comerford (D) Amherst. “So it’s Flood, frost, freeze. And they’re not going to get help, cash assistance, from anyone else but the state.”
This was not in the House budget. Representative Natalie Blais did propose something similar but it was not adopted. Now, the Department of Agricultural Resources estimates that at least $15 million dollars have been lost due to flooding that affected over 70 farms in the state.
With such differences, the Senate and house will have to turn to conference committee negotiators to decide on a final version.