Local Lawmakers Help Pass Supplemental Budget
Supplemental budget covers a number of state services and priorities.
The following is an announcement from the office of State Senator Katherine Clark:
Senator Katherine Clark and Representatives Bradley Jones and Donald Wong joined their colleagues in the House of Representatives and Senate to pass a $130 million supplemental budget that includes measures to freeze unemployment insurance rates for businesses, and increase funding for fuel assistance and adult day health services.
“This budget will strengthen our economy and businesses by freezing unemployment insurance rates, while also helping some of our most vulnerable populations by increasing funding for critical programs such as fuel assistance and adult day health care,” said Senator Clark.
“In addition to ensuring funding for fuel assistance and adult day health services, we froze the unemployment insurance rate freeze because it is the best and most concrete way we can help to move the Massachusetts economy forward in the New Year,” said Representative Jones. “In these tough fiscal times, we need to remove any impediments to economic growth in the Commonwealth.”
“I am pleased that in addition to securing much needed funding for fuel assistance and adult day health services, we took the necessary approach and froze the unemployment insurance tax rate,” said Representative Wong. “Our top priority must be to foster a business- friendly environment within the Commonwealth, and by approving this rate freeze, we have taken a step in the right direction.”
The unemployment system run by the commonwealth is primarily funded by the state’s employers. By law, as the funds in the unemployment system become depleted, employers’ contributions would increase. Freezing the rate at Schedule E will save the average employer $141 per employee and workers would continue to receive the same benefits under this rate freeze.
The spending bill also included $21 million in appropriations to supplement the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to assist low-income elders and families who are struggling to heat their homes this winter. Fuel assistance programs have been depleted as a result of a decrease in federal funding and high oil costs.
“Without the proactive action by the legislature there would be many area families and seniors who would literally be facing heat or eat choices in the coming weeks. The state supplemental appropriation for fuel assistance for those on limited incomes couldn’t have come at a more critical time as the temperature drops and price of oil rises. Part of what makes Massachusetts one of the best places to live is that we care for one another as a community,” said Mystic Valley Elder Services Executive Director Dan O’Leary.
The spending bill also included $35 million for adult day health services. These services allow elders to live comfortably in their own homes and save money by avoiding costly nursing home care.