March 27th 2016 BOSTON – State Representative David K. Muradian, Jr. (R-Grafton) joined with his House colleagues recently to support an increase in survivor benefits for the families of police, firefighters and other public safety officials killed in the line of duty.
The state currently provides a one-time, tax-free $150,000 payment to the families of first responders killed in the line of duty, but that would double to $300,000 under a proposal included in a $144.4 million Fiscal Year 2017 supplemental budget approved by the House and Senate on March 22. The vote came just five days after firefighter Joseph Toscano, a husband and father of five, collapsed and died while fighting a house fire in Watertown.
“Our police, firefighters and EMTs are constantly placing themselves in harm’s way to serve and protect the public,” said Representative Muradian. “Whenever a first responder is killed while doing their job, it’s important that we recognize their sacrifice by doing everything we can to help provide financial support to their families.
In addition to increasing survivor benefits, the supplemental budget includes a $300,000 reserve to help pay for the costs associated with regulating the possession and sale of marijuana. Massachusetts voters approved legalizing marijuana for recreational use in November of 2016, and a newly-formed Committee on Marijuana Policy is now working on ways to oversee the implementation of the new law.
The supplemental budget also contains funding for a variety of programs, including:
- $5.8 million for the Department of Public Health, including $495,000 for the Bureau of Substance Abuse Services;
- $5.2 million for the Department of Children and Families;
- $4.5 million for elder home care services;
- $28 million for the state’s sheriffs’ departments;
- $20.9 million for emergency housing assistance and family shelters;
- $10.8 million for the Department of Developmental Services’ Turning 22 program;
- $31 million for legal assistance provided through the Committee for Public Counsel Services;
- $14 million for Department of Correction facilities; and $12.4 million to fund collective bargaining agreements
The supplemental budget is now on Governor Charlie Baker’s desk for his review and signature.