Spilka: State exploring ‘new ways’ to pass budget
"Bills aimed at providing protection for renters and homeowners are among the Senate’s short-term COVID-19 response plans, and beyond that, Senate President Karen Spilka is looking at ways to keep the body running with most senators working remotely amid the ongoing public health crisis.
“We’re just about to enter the surge. I think all of us need to keep our eye on the ball, or the surge, right now,” Spilka said Wednesday after virtually caucusing with Senate Democrats for upwards of three hours. “We just can’t take our eyes off of it.”
Gov. Charlie Baker has projected the number of COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts could reach its peak somewhere between Friday and April 20. A total of 16,790 people had tested positive for the coronavirus as of Wednesday afternoon, and 4 o’clock has become synonymous with grim daily updates of infection and virus death totals.
Nearly a month after Baker declared a state of emergency, Spilka said the Legislature’s focus has remained on limiting spread of the virus and providing a safety net for residents whose lives have been disrupted."Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)
MA residents leaning heavily on public assistance programs
"A flood of new applications surged into state social safety net programs in recent weeks, another piece of evidence reflecting widespread economic hardships brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
Following Gov. Charlie Baker’s March 10 state of emergency declaration, the number of Massachusetts residents seeking government aid from three major programs rapidly increased as businesses were ordered to close and as layoffs spread widely.
Total weekly applications for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children program (TAFDC) and the Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled and Children (EAEDC) more than tripled over the past month, state data show.
The heightened need will get attention next week from the Legislature: on Monday, the Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities Committee will host a virtual hearing on a bill (H 4622) that would provide an extra month of TAFDC and EAEDC benefits to families in need."Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)
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