Thursday, May 14, 2020

A bill to authorize $1 billion in state spending to respond to Covid-19 costs - An Act Making Appropriations for the Fiscal Year 2020 to Authorize Certain COVID-19 Spending in Anticipation of Federal Reimbursement has been filed by Governor Charlie Baker.

The Governor has filed a supplemental budget bill to leverage that we need to in advance of federal financial support, including aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The expenses include payments for many of the areas where the state has been spending during the pandemic: personal protective equipment, rate adjustments for human service providers, incentive pay for state employees on the front lines at certain facilities, costs of temporary field hospitals and shelters, National Guard pay, costs associated with the state's contact tracing program, emergency child care for essential workers, and increased costs of local housing authorities and of the family and individual shelter system.

The Governor expects that the supplemental budget bill will have no additional cost for state government.

"It's a billion dollars, but it's actually a net zero to the state. This is the money that we need to appropriate and acknowledge to be able to access federal reimbursements under our emergency declaration act under FEMA," the Governor said. "The way FEMA works is, and this is sort of the way it's always worked, is the states spend, the feds reimburse when it comes to FEMA stuff. And for us to access what we believe is a very significant amount of resource that the federal government, through the emergency declaration, has signed up to reimburse us for, we need to spend first to get them to reimburse us and that's basically what that is."