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House Passes Measure to Provide More Than $1 Billion in Federal Reimbursement for COVID-19 Needs

June 26, 2020

 Reimbursement for COVID-19 Needs; The Bill Also Establishes Juneteenth as a State Holiday

 

BOSTON, JUNE 26, 2020 – This week House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo and State Representative Bill Driscoll, Jr. along with their colleagues in the House of Representatives, passed a supplemental budget to facilitate federal CARES Act funding to reimburse communities hard-hit by COVID-19.

 

The spending measure follows the April passage in Congress of the Federal Cares Act, which requires states to expend funds on items related to COVID-19 for federal reimbursement. The supplemental budget directs funds to address vital needs including for personal protective equipment, field hospitals and contact tracing.

 

The bill also establishes Juneteenth Independence Day on June 19th in Massachusetts, marking the day in 1865 when the enslaved people of Galveston, Texas, learned they were free.

 

“This supplemental budget will distribute key funds to some of the most vital needs in the wake of COVID-19. It will enable us to access federal funds for PPE, contact tracing, childcare support and other vital areas. I thank Chair Michlewitz and my colleagues in the House for their work on this bill,” said Speaker DeLeo (D-Winthrop). “I’m also grateful to Representative Williams and the members of the Black and Latino Legislative Caucus for their advocacy for making Juneteenth a state holiday.”

 

“By passing this supplemental budget, we are taking one step closer in helping relieve the financial burden that COVID-19 has inflicted, while also helping some prepare for the coming months as the virus continues to inflict pain. I want to thank my colleagues for their input and guidance on highlighting the most critical needs that were addressed in this budget,” said Representative Aaron Michlewitz, Chair of the House Committee on Ways & Means (D-Boston). “I was also proud to support the inclusion of making Juneteenth a State Holiday throughout the Commonwealth in this budget. I want to thank the members of the Black & Latino Caucus for their work to forever memorializing June 19th and everything it stands for.”

 

"I am proud to have co-sponsored and voted for the amendment offered by my colleague Representative Bud Williams of Springfield to recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday in Massachusetts," said Representative Driscoll (D-Milton). "This action is long overdue, and it is my hope that by officially recognizing Juneteenth as a permanent holiday we will have the opportunity to honor those who suffered at the hands of slavery in America, celebrate the fight for freedom, and to rededicate ourselves to the work that remains to be done in ensuring fairness, equity, and justice for all."

 

“When the Massachusetts House of Representatives voted to acknowledge Juneteenth as an official State holiday it was a very proud moment in history for African American citizens,” said Representative Bud L. Williams (D-Springfield). “I'm pleased to have been a sponsor of this legislation.”

 

The spending bill includes, among other items:

 

  • $350 Million for personal protective equipment costs across the Commonwealth;

  • $139 Million for increased rate add-ons to congregate care providers;

  • $94 Million for incentive pay for human service employees;

  • $85 Million for field hospitals and shelters;

  • $44 Million for Community Tracing Collaborative;

  • $81.6 Million for child care needs during the pandemic and re-opening;;

  • $500,000 to create an Early Education and Care Public-Private Trust Fund to establish an infrastructure to foster public-private and philanthropic efforts in support of childcare providers.

 

The bill now moves to the Senate.

 

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© 2019 William Driscoll, Jr.