BOSTON – This week, Representative Joan Meschino (D-Hull) and her colleagues in the House of Representatives passed a supplemental budget to facilitate allocation of 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 provides federal reimbursement funds for the state to expend on items related to COVID-19. The supplemental budget directs funds to address vital needs including personal protective equipment, field hospitals and contact tracing. 

“The House allocation of federal COVID-19 funds is about more than reimbursing the state and our communities for COVID-19 costs,” said Representative Meschino. “It is about shaping investments in public health initiatives and supporting our front-line workers who keep us healthy and safe throughout the pandemic and beyond.”

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 also establishes Juneteenth Independence Day on June 19th as a state holiday in Massachusetts, marking the day in 1865 when Union general Gordon Granger read federal orders in Galveston, Texas, that all previously enslaved people in Texas were free as a result of the Emancipation Proclamation, which had been signed over 2 years prior.

“I want to thank Representative Bud Williams and our colleagues in the Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus for their advocacy to make Juneteenth a state holiday,” said Representative Meschino.

The bill now moves to the Senate.