The Online Resource for Massachusetts Poverty Law Advocates

FY18 Final Conference Report - SNAP Gap/Common App and other Victories!

The Massachusetts Legislature's Conference Committee released their $40.2 billion dollar FY18 budget proposal late last Friday. The budget is now in front of Governor Baker. He has 10 days to issue vetoes (cut funding or eliminate language). The FY18 budget proposal then goes back to the Legislature who can override vetoes with a two-thirds vote.

UPDATE on KEY ISSUES SNAP Coalition members are following:

Closing the SNAP Gap through a Common Application:

The Conference Budget includes line item language (4000-0300 and 4000-0328) that directs the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) and DTA to report by January 1, 2018 on "the feasibility of offering MassHealth applicants o or recipients the opportunity to complete a common application for MassHealth and programs administered by DTA" (SNAP, TAFDC cash assistance and EAEDC (elders, disabled and children) cash assistance and to publish a plan by March 15, 2018 that identifies the resources needed for an integrated eligibility system that allows a common application for MassHealth, DTA and other needs-based benefits. Streamlining the application process for clients will be more efficient and could increase the number of eligible residents receiving these nutrition and other benefits. This is a great first step to creating a common application portal!

DTA has confirmed that over 793K individuals with gross income under 150% FPL currently receive MassHealth but do not receive SNAP.  106K are elderly and 228K are children under age 18 (roughly 30%).  See attached chart.  DTA has already begun to tackle the SNAP Gap for elders through a Specialized SNAP Elder Unit that gears up in September, and we are hopeful they will focus next on individuals with severe disabilities and on low wage working families with children.

The Massachusetts Food Trust:

The Conference Budget included $100,000 under the Massachusetts Office of Business Development to support the operating costs of implementing the Massachusetts Food Trust program.  These funds will be used for the administrative and operating costs of getting the program launched and implemented.  Operating dollars ensure that the $1 million dollars in dedicated capital funds will be leveraged  and used to support new and expanded healthy food retailers and local food enterprises in low and moderate income communities throughout Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Food Trust is finally moving from a concept to reality! Congrats to MPHA !!

TAFDC Clothing Allowance and Transitional Benefits:

The Conference Budget boosted the TAFDC clothing allowance for children to $300 per child (a one-time payment issued in September of each year). TAFDC is funded at $162.9 million with  language changes to continue to provide transitional benefits to those families who increase their earnings through employment and to preserve current eligibility standard.

MEFAP:

The Conference Budget funded $17.7M for the Mass Emergency Food Assistance Program.

MassHealth coverage:

The Conference budget rejected the Governor's late-in-the-day proposal to cut MassHealth for 140 parents and individuals with gross income between 100% and 130% FPL.

WHAT CAN YOU DO NOW?

1. Say thank you! If your Rep or Senator co-sponsored or supported one or all of these priorities, be sure to send them a quick thank you note.  This includes Senator Sal DiDomenico and Representative Jay Livingstone for the SNAP Gap campaign along with the rest of the 107 co-sponsors of the legislation.

2. Let Governor Baker know these priorities are important to you and the communities you serve.  Ask him to support them as he signs the final budget. To Contact the Governor, go HERE.

3. Let your partners and allies know the great news!


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