Just a few weeks ago, the House debated hundreds of amendments to determine how to allocate funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and surplus funds from last fiscal year. And with your help, several significant amendments were included – prioritizing BIPOC youth and youth experiencing homelessness and addressing barriers to education for low-income students.
Now it’s the Senate’s turn and we have another chance to fight for the inclusion of essential initiatives to ensure Massachusetts’ recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is equitable, sustainable, and centered on families and youth who have been hit hardest during this devastating time.
Last Wednesday, the Massachusetts Senate Committee on Ways and Means (SWM) released S.2564, their own document to allocate ARPA and surplus funds. Senators had until Friday afternoon to submit amendments to that proposal, and the full Senate will be debating and voting on those amendments TOMORROW (November 10th).
This is an unprecedented opportunity to advance social justice and invest in the systemic solutions our communities deserve.
Please reach out to your Senator now and ask them to include key funding initiatives in S.2564 that support students, youth experiencing homelessness, and renters facing eviction.
Amendments We Support:
Amendment #32 “Youth Employment”: Sponsored by Senator Eldridge, this amendment would allocate $50 million to support employment programs for youth and young adults experiencing homelessness, including programs that serve LGBTQ+ and questioning youth and youth of color. This investment would empower an estimated 10,000 young people with jobs and pathways to career success. Click here for more information about this amendment from our advocacy partner Breaktime.
- The amendment would provide $12.4 million for one year of temporary funding for the Housing and Eviction Representation program to provide housing stability and homelessness prevention to those at risk of eviction. This program would make tenants and owner occupants whose incomes are below 80% of the Area Median Income eligible for free legal representation.
- The Right to High-Quality Education for All Students program would allocate $1.9 million to address barriers to fair, equitable, and high-quality education for low-income students across Massachusetts.
- The amendment would also provide $3.9 million to fund two programs providing legal help and benefits to low-income and vulnerable families in medical and family settings.
Amendment #422 “Trained and Qualified School Interpreters Workforce Development”: Sponsored by Senator Crighton, this amendment would allocate $4 million over 5 years to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to build a statewide system of trained and qualified school interpreters. This includes providing statewide training and assessment for 1,100 bilingual school staff to become qualified school interpreters. Click here for more information about this amendment.
Amendment #439 “School Meals”: Sponsored by Senator DiDomenico, this amendment would extend universal free school breakfast and lunch at higher need school districts through the 2024-2025 school year. The amendment would also eliminate meal costs for families that qualify for reduced-price lunch in all eligible school districts where at least 40% of students are in families that already participate in food assistance programs like SNAP.
Amendment #457 “Community College Campus Hunger Pilot Program”: Sponsored by Senator Lovely, this amendment would allocate at least $2.7 million to establish the Massachusetts Community College Campus Hunger Program. Applying community colleges would be able to utilize program funds to combat student hunger and food insecurity through meal cards, meal vouchers, meal plans, and other campus-designed projects.
Time is of the essence. Please reach out to your State Senator to help us pass these amendments!
What You Can Do
- Contact your Senator TODAY and ask them to co-sponsor Amendments #32, #257, #422, #439, #457, and #458 to S.2564.
- Because elected officials get a lot of emails, follow up with a phone call to ask whether the Senator will co-sponsor Amendments #32, #257, #422, #439, #457, and #458 to S.2564.
- Click here to find your Senator’s email and phone number.
The next 24 hours are critical so please contact your State Senator NOW.
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