BOSTON – Representative Paul K. Frost (R-Auburn) announces the initial approval of a $1.1 billion supplemental budget by the House of Representatives on June 24, 2020. The bill, a redraft of legislation originally filed by Governor Baker in May, is designed to leverage federal reimbursement for costs related to the Commonwealth’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The supplemental budget authorizes spending to support health care, housing, food assistance, and early education. Through this legislation, the state seeks to minimize the fiscal impact on taxpayers by expediting the anticipated ability to recoup many expenses through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
Among many other critical funding designations, hundreds of millions of dollars will be expended for protective equipment, hospitals, shelters, community tracing efforts, early education grants, emergency child care for essential workers, and direct wage supplements for home care workers and elder protective services. A $2 million appropriation will set up an adaptive surveillance testing program to routinely test nursing home staff and residents for the 2019 novel coronavirus, with nursing facilities to receive testing reimbursement on a monthly basis. An Early Education and Care Public-Private Trust Fund will be created to support Massachusetts’ childcare providers during the COVID-19 reopening and recovery process.
Representative Frost was successful in amending the bill to include funding for pandemic response efforts in the municipalities of the 7th Worcester District. As passed by the House of Representatives, Auburn, Charlton, Millbury and Oxford are set to receive thousands in aid for personal protection equipment, food distribution, and other COVID-19 related initiatives. Frost cosponsored the Oxford funding with Rep. Joseph McKenna (R-Webster) and Charlton funding with Rep. Peter Durant (R-Spencer). Frost was also successful in including an amendment to provide COVID-19 support to Auburn Youth & Family Services.
Representative Frost was also a cosponsor of an amendment establishing June 19th as Juneteenth Independence Day. On this day in 1865, Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas to ensure the freedom of enslaved people over two years after Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. It permanently ended the practice of slavery in the United States. The amendment passed unanimously.
The amended bill, now H.4808, has moved on to the Senate where it awaits a vote.