Lawmakers lift cap on family welfare benefits

  • State Sen. Don Humason, of Westfield, attends a Northampton Chamber of Commerce luncheon in Holyoke. STAFF FILE PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

State House News Service
Published: 4/25/2019 1:29:42 PM

BOSTON – A Senate vote Thursday passed into law over Gov. Charlie Baker's veto legislation lifting a 1990s-era state policy barring families receiving public assistance benefits from getting additional benefits when another child is born.

Sen. Sal DiDomenico, who has long been pushing to eliminate the so-called cap on kids, said it was the sixth time the Senate voted to do away with the policy.

"We will once and for all put this policy out of business," the Everett Democrat said before the Senate voted 37-3 to override Baker's veto. Three of the Senate's six Republicans -- Sens. Vinny deMacedo, Ryan Fattman and Donald Humason -- voted to sustain the governor's veto.

The bill (H 3594) previously passed the House 155-1 and the Senate 37-1, so overriding the governor with the necessary two-thirds support was not in doubt. The House voted in favor of an override two weeks ago.

Baker had said that he did not oppose lifting the cap, but wanted additional welfare system reforms to be included in the bill. The Legislature showed little interest in Baker's proposals.

"Lifting the Cap on Kids will make a critical difference in the lives of 8,700 of the lowest income children in Massachusetts," Deborah Harris of the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute said. "With today's vote, Massachusetts has affirmed the dignity and humanity of every child."

The bill includes a preamble that makes the change effective immediately and the Legislature made its cap lift retroactive to January. The Baker administration now has until September to calculate benefits so families receive the proper amount retroactive back to Jan. 1, according to advocates.




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