BOSTON (WWLP) – Through a $388.7 million supplemental budget signed by Governor Maura Healey for Fiscal Year 2023, Massachusetts will continue to provide free school meals to all children through the end of the academic year by providing critical and timely resources to its family shelter system. 

Additionally, the budget includes $68 million for Commonwealth Cares for Children (C3) grants to stabilize childcare providers through the end of the fiscal year, and $130 million for creating an offramp from the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which the government began providing during the COVID-19 outbreak. 

To prevent interruptions to core state capital programs that support housing and economic development across the Commonwealth, and to remain competitive in the pursuit of federal grants, the Governor signed a bill that authorizes $740 million of borrowing in addition to direct spending. The funds include $400 million for MassWorks, $104 million for the Clean Water Trust, and $125 million for matching grants to compete for federal dollars. 

“I’m proud that the first major bill signed into law by our administration dedicates crucial resources to help Massachusetts families access safe and secure housing, keep food on the table, and pay for child care. Additionally, this bill supports our health care workforce, crucial housing and economic development programs like MassWorks, and our efforts to compete for federal funding,” said Governor Healey. “We’re grateful to Senate President Spilka, Speaker Mariano, the Legislature, and advocates for their swift work and partnership to meet these urgent needs.” 

“This supplemental budget injects urgently needed funds into programs that support Massachusetts families and drive housing and economic development across our state. It also takes important steps to educate the public on their options around reproductive health care, extends accessibility and flexibility for public meetings, protects access to clean water, and bolsters broadband infrastructure,” said Lieutenant Governor Driscoll. “We’re proud to have strong partners in this work and look forward to our continued efforts to move Massachusetts forward.” 

As Governor Healey outlined in three separate bills filed during her first few months in office, the supplemental budget approved by the Legislature and signed Wednesday combines many of those priorities.  

Due to a growing number of families, immigrants, and refugees facing homelessness, this timely appropriation will inject $85 million into the state’s Emergency Assistance Family Shelters. In order to stabilize and rehouse families, investments will be made in housing infrastructure and shelter provider workforce. In addition, $21.9 million will be available to support schools through the end of the 2023-2024 school year to assist communities experiencing a large influx of families with school-aged children as a result of state shelter placements. 

By providing a supplemental SNAP allotment equal to 40 percent of the previous federal benefit for three months, the $130 million for SNAP will bridge the abrupt end of the enhanced federal COVID benefit for more than 630,000 Massachusetts families. In addition, $2 million would be used to compensate some victims of SNAP benefit theft.  

Among the additional investments are: 

  • $15.7 million for Residential Assistance for Families in Transition 
  • $1.25 million for family and reproductive health services, including a $1 million public awareness campaign focused on the dangers of crisis pregnancy centers and pregnancy resource centers 
  • $2 million to support the 114th National NAACP Conference in Boston 

Among the most urgent capital needs identified by the Healey-Driscoll administration in January are addressed in the bill signed into law today, including the MassWorks program, which provides the largest and most flexible capital funding sources for municipal infrastructure projects that support and accelerate housing production, spur community development, and create jobs. 

It authorizes funding for the Clean Water Trust to finance communities’ efforts to improve water infrastructure and improve local water quality; $34 million to help revitalize underutilized properties; and $9.3 million for broadband infrastructure, primarily in central and western Massachusetts.  

As a result of the matching grants in the budget, which include $200 million for CHIPS and Science Act funding and $30 million to compete for federal funding for community broadband funded by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Massachusetts will be able to compete for every federal dollar that is available. 

“I am grateful to our partners in the Legislature, and my colleagues in the Cabinet, for working together expeditiously to get this critical budget to Governor Healey for her signature in a timely fashion,” Secretary for Administration and Finance Matthew J. Gorzkowicz said. “This funding will not only ensure that our shelters and other food security safety net programs can meet the demand of vulnerable residents but also puts Massachusetts in a strong position to compete for federal dollars that will benefit communities across the Commonwealth.” 

This new law extends three Public Health Orders issued in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic until May when the COVID-19 public health emergency is expected to end. Staffing flexibility will be temporarily extended for advanced life support ambulances and freestanding dialysis providers as well as continuing flexibility for the administration of prescription medications to community-based clients of state agencies. 

The bill also extends for two years through March 31, 2025, the right of public bodies, including Town Meetings, to meet remotely, as well as the expedited permitting of outdoor dining and the sale of beer, wine, and cocktails.