A pilot program in Massachusetts providing common college meals can be prolonged by the top of the 2023-2024 college 12 months as a part of a supplemental finances proposal filed Friday by Gov. Maura Healey.
The $734 million proposed spending plan consists of $171 million for the state-funded college meals program.
The proposal additionally directs the state Office of Education to report by early subsequent 12 months on choices to increase this program into the longer term, together with in search of methods to faucet into federal funds to assist pay for the meals. The administration had earlier requested funding to proceed this system by the present college 12 months, in accordance with Healey.
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“The common college meals program has confirmed to be successful in increasing entry to nutritious meals for all college students, and it’s important that we maintain it operating,” Healey stated in a press launch.
The transfer comes as states have grappled with the top of a pandemic-era federal help program that made college meals accessible without spending a dime to all public college college students — no matter household revenue ranges.
California and Maine made common meals everlasting in 2021. Final 12 months, Colorado voters accredited a poll measure to supply free meals for all public college college students,
Different states are weighing expanded or common meals applications.
Vermont — which opted final 12 months to proceed the free meals for all public college college students for an additional 12 months utilizing surplus state schooling funding — is contemplating a invoice that may make common free college meals everlasting.
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Healey’s supplemental finances plan additionally consists of $20 million to assist the beleaguered Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority recruit and retain workers — cash that may assist enhance hiring bonuses, increase entry-level pay for bus operators and develop a advertising and marketing marketing campaign to help hiring efforts.
Employee shortages on the transit authority has contributed to a slew of issues, together with a slowdown in subway journeys throughout rush hours.
The proposed finances additionally would triple the working finances of the Massachusetts Clear Vitality Middle to assist pay for the state’s continued push for clear know-how and decarbonization efforts. It additionally consists of $2 million for the state’s celebration of the 250th anniversary of the American Revolution.
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The finances plan now heads to state lawmakers.