We have good news and not so good news to report. First, the good news!
Victories in the FY23 Budget:
The FY23 Budget Conference Report H.5050 was released last night, the House and Senate convene today to take a final vote of acceptance and ship it to the Governor for his signature and/or vetoes. There are three important victories in the Conference Report:
· 10% grant increase for TAFDC and EAEDC households, effective October 1st (vs April 1st of 2023). This is HUGE for low-income families to receive the 10% grant increase 6 months sooner than the House had proposed. This means that the TAFDC grant for 3 will go from a maximum of $712 a month to $783 a month. In addition, the Conference Report keeps the Senate increase in the annual clothing allowance, which will be $400 for each child receiving TAFDC this September. The clothing allowance increase means that a family with two children will get $100 more in September than they would have gotten last year. This campaign was led by the Lift Our Kids Coalition. Huge thanks to Rep Marjorie Decker and Senator Sal DiDomenico!
· Common application language in Outside Section 5 of the FY23 budget, which puts into state law a requirement that EOHHS, EOCD, and key state agencies to “develop and implement a secure common application portal for individuals to simultaneously apply for state administered needs-based benefits and services” (including SNAP, DTA cash benefits, MassHealth, childcare, fuel assistance, housing, Vets Services). While this may take some time and IT to implement, this is a major step forward in breaking down the bureaucratic barriers in accessing benefits. HUGE thanks to Rep Jay Livingstone and Senator Sal DiDomenico for their advocates to get this into BOTH branches. This multi-year campaign was led by the Common Apps Coalition.
o NOTE: EOHHS is rolling out the “SNAP Gap” checkbox on the MassHealth application July 27th. Stay tuned for more updates. EOHHS Secretary Marylou Sudders confirmed this last week on the Mass Nonprofit Network quarterly call!
· Universal school meals for school year 22/23 – YES! Massachusetts will continue to offer universal school meals this upcoming school year. All Massachusetts school children (whose schools participate in the National School Lunch Program) will get free breakfast and lunch! This massive, successful effort lead by the Feed Kids Coalition spearheaded by Project Bread. A deep bow to the Project Bread team. Another HUGE thanks to Rep Andy Vargas and Senator Sal DiDomenico!
ACTION STEPS: Please THANK the Chairs of the Budget Conference Committee for these important initiative in the FY23 budget:
Senate W&M Chair Michael Rodrigues - (617)722-1114, Michael.Rodrigues@masenate.gov
House W&M Chair Aaron Michlewitz - (617)722-2990, Aaron.M.Michlewitz@mahouse.gov
We are hoping that the Governor does NOT veto these and other critical items. If he does, we need the MA Legislature to vote to override the vetoes. And now is also the time to weigh in with the Executive Branch (the Governor) as well as House and Senate members who can persuade the Governor to not veto.
Economic Development Bill update:
Unfortunately, we do not have good news on the House deliberations in the Economic Development package the ended last week(H. 5007). The following amendments were NOT adopted:
· Rep Vargas and Domb’s Hunger Free Campus Campaign amendment.
· Rep Mark’s Healthy Incentives Program amendment.
· Rep Duffy’s Cliff Effects amendment, and many more.
However, the Senate will be taking up the Economic Development package this week. There is still a chance that we can push these initiatives forward in the Senate or as self-standing bills. Stay tuned for updates on that front.
Public Health Emergency Declaration EXTENDED:
The federal Department of Health and Human Services announced on July 15th that the public health emergency declaration is continued for another 90 days. This means that SNAP households will continue to receive the SNAP “emergency allotments” and that other federal waivers and flexibilities will continue to stay in effect (for example, the college student eligibility rules, and no 3 month time limit.
Please reassure your clients that their SNAP extra benefits will continue, but at the same time, please try to screen the households for all available deductions so that when the extra benefits end, their SNAP will be at the maximum level.
Upcoming SNAP Coalition Meetings:
· July 26th SNAP Coalition meeting (4th Tuesday) to discuss the FY23 budget updates, summer P-EBT, the extension of the emergency allotments and more.
· A special “2nd Tuesday” meeting on August 9th with DTA and DEEC to present on a) the new SNAP medical deduction self-dec policy and b) SNAP ET and Head Start childcare.
· There is NO Coalition meeting on August 23rd.