Legislatures approves $2.7B spending bill, including migrant housing

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(The Center Square) – Massachusetts taxpayers are poised to spend $2.74 billion to address the growing number of migrants arriving in the commonwealth needing shelter.

Emergency housing is about to exceed limits.

The spending bill passed in the House of Representatives this week will support the state’s emergency shelter cap, with the condition lawmakers identify a site to house the overflow of homeless families.

In September, the House passed a bill supporting Gov. Maura Healey’s plan to add $250 million to the shelter system. The most recent legislation states that $50 million of the funds be allocated toward providing overflow housing for families on the commonwealth’s wait list.

Some lawmakers felt there should be provisions, including a residency requirement, hoping it might negate the flow of migrants.

Republican Rep. Paul Frost sponsored an amendment to alter the “right-to-shelter” law by requiring a one-year residency benefit in the commonwealth. The amendment was overwhelmingly shot down in the House 28-126.

Frost’s amendment did receive scant bipartisan support; however, House Speaker Ron Mariano and the House rejected the move. The amendment wouldn’t have touched a significant portion of the law. Leading Democrats in neighboring New York, including Gov. Kathy Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams, have proposed altering their “right-to-shelter” law to ease the strain on emergency shelters.

“Instead of supporting the bipartisan supported amendment, which would have attached some guard rails to the ‘right to shelter’ law from being abused, Speaker Mariano and the House chose to block it instead,” said Paul Craney from Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance.

“That’s unfortunate because the speaker had an opportunity to help the situation for Massachusetts taxpayers who are being asked to continue to fund a broken immigration system,” he said.

Varying reports say the commonwealth is reaching its cap of 7,500 migrants in the shelter system, which critics of Healey underscore that the cap is “self-imposed.”

“The inclusion of provisions for an ‘overflow site’ in today’s spending bill released by the House should trouble everyone,” Craney said. “It essentially means we have a shelter cap in name only and I have no doubt will lead to a situation that is far worse for everyone involved – Massachusetts resident and undocumented migrants alike. The only humane and just solution to this crisis is to secure the border.”

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