A day after the Speaker of the House voiced the idea of ââspending additional federal relief funds to deal with increased omicron-fueled COVID-19 activity and the overwhelming demand for testing, Senator Adam Hinds said he plans to work with legislative leaders to “immediately shift the resources needed for this emergency.”
âIt is appalling that this morning parents, teachers and schools have to choose what they want to sacrifice first: the physical safety of their children, their intellectual development or their mental health, because that is one of them when so many children and teachers are forced into schools without testing, âsaid Hinds, co-chair of the joint income committee and also Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, at the start of the report. committee hearing Tuesday.
âWhat makes it even worse is that we knew it was going to happen. We knew the variant was taking root and we knew there would be winter and post-vacation surges, and yet we seem to be caught off guard again, âhe said.
House Speaker Ron Mariano said on Monday lawmakers were seeking clarification from the Baker administration on how resources intended to deal with another increase were used and whether additional funds could be used. be necessary.
The Legislature and Baker just agreed on a $ 4 billion spending bill and on Tuesday Hinds brought up the same topic as Mariano and pointed out that $ 2.3 billion in federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act had still not been spent as proof that “there is money that can be used to ensure every child and teacher has a free and instantly available test.”
“We gave the governor $ 200 million in anticipation of future increases and it is important that we understand how that was used today to deal with this test failure,” said Hinds. “I will work with the Ways and Means and Public Health Presidents and others to immediately move the resources needed for this emergency.”
In addition to probing how the Baker administration spent the $ 200 million ARPA at its disposal – Baker previously announced plans to spend $ 186 million of that money on hospitals in distress, worker rate increases social services, hospital psychiatric care and workforce development – Mariano on Lundi also suggested that the House “will work with the Senate to provide all the resources necessary to increase the availability of tests and masks for women. residents of the Commonwealth â.
The legislature has been suspended for the past seven weeks, but its rules allow the two branches to resume debate and recorded votes on Wednesday.
The Senate plans to hold a formal session to mark the start of the second year in office, but no plans to pass major legislation have been announced. The House meets in informal session on Wednesday.